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O N T H E 


O F O U R 

Bleffed LORD and SAVIOUR 


B Y T H E 


Lecturer of Weft-Ham, in E([ex, aiid 
of St. Olave's Hart-Street^ London. 

All thtfc things /pake Jefus tmto the multitude in parables ; 
and without a parable [pake he not unto them: that it 
might he fulfilled which ivas fpoken by the prophet^ fay- 
ing^ I will open my mouth in parables ; / will utter 
things which have been kept fecret from the foundation of 
the world, St. Matt. xiii. 34, 35. 

Familiare eji Syris, ^ mdxime Palaeftinis ad omnem fermo- 
nem fuum parabdas adjungere .- ut quod fimpclx pr^scep- 
turn teneri ah auditoribus mn pote<l^ per flmilitudinem ex- 
e?nplaque teneaiur* H i e r o N y m . i.n IM a t t H . 



Printed for W. FADE N, in Wine - Office - Court, 
Fleet-Street. MDCCLVII, 

Study the Holy Scripture, efpecially the New 
Teftament : therein are contained the vvords of 
eternal life : it has God for its Author, Salvation 
for its End, and Truth, without any mixture of 
Error, for its Matter. Locks, I 


O F T H E 

Third VOLUME. 



N the Parable of the Sower. Matt, xiii. 28. 

Page I 
Part IL 33 


' ' Of the Seed fpringing up of itfelfy 

Mark iv. 16—29 7^ 


— — Of the Tares, Matt, xiii. 24—28. 104 
Part II. Matt, xiii. 28—30. .130 


Of the Pearl of great Price. Matt, xiii. 

455 4^- 162 


-~» Of the Unmerciful Servant, Matt, xxvii}. 
i5* .196 

D I S- 



- Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, Matt. 

XX. i6. 227 

Part II. 253 


- Of the importunate Widow. Luke xviii. 


- Of the Pharifee and Publican, Luke 

xviii. 9. 323 

Part IL 34S 


- Of the Lojl Sheep, Luke xv. 3—7. 382 


* Of the Prodigal Son, Luke xv. 11—13* 



Part II. Luke XV. 18—20. 
Part III. Luke XV. 22—24, 

R£C. hfOV IB 


On the PARABLE of the Sower, 

Being the Subftance of Two Sermons. 
P A R T L 

Matthew xiii. i8. 

Hear ye therefore the Parable of the Sower. 

?^)^MX'^ S there is nothing more worthy 
O A w a rational creature than the ado- 
)^ ^ ration and worlhip of that glorious 

k.MM)^jM( Being from whom we have re- 
ceived Hfe and all things ; fo is there no fight 
wherein the foul of man fhould fo much 
rejoice as in a great congregation of fuch ra- 
VoL,III. N^i. B tional 

2 On the PARABLE 

tional creatures, affemhled to unite their fc-' 
jlrr;n prayers and praifes to the ibvereign 
L«^id of heaven aiid earr.h, the Creator, Re- 
deemer and Sandifier of mankind. Oh 
how good is it J or us to he here : how p!ea- 
fing is it to breathe our fouls earneft de- 
fires with united fervor to the throne of grace: 
how joyfui to refound with one heart and 
voice the praifes of the God of Glory : to 
tell of all his loving-kindnefs, and to declare 
the wonders that he doth for the children 
of men!— But bleffed and honourable as this 
employment is, pleafing and refreiliing as 
this profped" : what infinite concern muft it 
give every fincere Chriftian, but more efpe- 
cially every iincere teacher, to fee not only 
thefe duties in particular fo careleily per- 
form'd, but the word of God in general have 
fo little effecfl > to fee numbers frequent- 
ing the temple of the great Jehovah, with as 
much feeming indifi^erence and irreverence, 
as if it were not indeed the place where his 
honour dv/ellcth y and departing from thence 
as unedified and as faft bound in the chains 
of fin, as they entered into it. — When ^ 
preacher is truly defirous of the eternal 
welfare of thofe who hear him, and in love 
to their fouls anxioufly longeth after their 
falvation, it cannot fail to give him the moft 


^of the SOWER. .3 

fenfible nneafinefs, when he perceives the 
fmall fruits arifmg from his words 5 and that 
after fermon upon fermon, line upon Hne, 
and precept upon precept ; — ftill the deaf ear 
is turned, and the greater part refufe to hear, 
and caft his words behind them. It is apt to 
make us fufped: that there is fome great de- 
ficiency in ourlelves, that we do not deliver 
the word with freedom and plainnefs enough- 
that we do not rebuke^ exhort^ infiruSl^ as be- 
cometh the minifters and meffengers oiChriJl: 
and in truth, did the fuccefs depend upon 
our weak endeavours and poor difcourfes, we 
fhould be rather furprifed to find one foul 
won over to God by their means, than to 
fee all men unaffed:ed by them.— But the 
cafe is far different, if we take care to fow 
the good feed with diligence and fincerity, this 
is all we can do ; the increafe is not in our 
powers, we cannot carry it to the heart, and 
caufe it to take root there : this is the work 
of God alone : It is not of h'm that plant eth^ 
nor of him that waterethy but of God that givetb 
the increafe. Wherefore it is the more fur- 
prizing, that the miniftry of God in general, 
but particularly where performed in fincerity, 
that the word read and preach'd hath fo 
little effedt : and that after we have deli- 
vered the truth, time after time, and year 

B 2 after 

4 On the- PARABLE 

after year, moft part not one tittle the better;^ 
mod part are not one tittle the wifer for all 
they have heard !— an alarming confideration 
both to minijler and peofle : advifing the one 
to take heed, that it is indeed the word of God 
which he preaches, and not man's wifdom; 
advifing the other to take beed, bow they hear^ 
according to our Saviour's caution, fince a 
carelefs, unfruitful and unprofitable hearing 
of his word will greatly enhance the con- 
demnation of thofe who hear. — It is judg'd 
in general a matter of no moment how we 
hear^ and many fuppofe that God's word may 
be liftened to, juftas if it were the word of 
man, as fome pleafing tale, to amufe and en- 
tertain us : that hearing of fermons is a matter 
of much indiflference, and we may go from 
the church after having heard the gofpel, juft 
as inattentive and as blamelefs too, as we entered 
into it. But let us not miftake this matter : 
The gofpel m.uft be either a favour of 
Vfe unto life^ or of death unto death: if we 
hear and will not obey, the very words we 
hear, will hereafter condemn us: and the 
higher degrees of light and inftrudion we 
have had, fo much higher piiniflunent fliall 
we hereafter {hare, if we negle6l fo great fal- 
vation. Every fermon that has brought Chr'ifl 
to our ears, but not carried him to our heart, 


of the SOWER. 5 

how hard a faymg foever we may now 
think it, will affuredly rife up in condemna- 
tion againft us. — Great reafon is there there- 
fore that we attend to our Saviour's counfel, 
T^ake heed^ how ye hear : for whofoever hath, to 
him fall be given, and whofcever hath not, from 
him fall he taken away, even that "which he 
SEEMt TH to have * With which words 
our Lord, in St. Liike\ gofpel, clofeth all he 
had to fay upon the Parable of the 5:i'wer — 
a parable of infinite ufe both to rnimfters and 
people : to us, becaufe it tends to eafe us of 
much concern upon the fmall fuccefs of our 
miniftry, of our fincere tho* imperfed: endea- 
vours to promote the kingdom of God : which 
ill fuccefs, if wx could fuppofe it at any time 
owing to ourfelves, 1 know not of any mifery, 
that could equal that which muft arife from 
the reflexion of fouls perifhing thro' our de- 
fault: and to }'(5^Mt may be no lefs edifying, 
— '' I fay it may (to ufe the words of the 
excellent Bifhop Beveridge -f-) not it will be : 


* Juvenal has an expreflion fimilar to this 
Nil habuit Codrus — ^ff tamen illud 
Perd'tdlt infelix 7iiL Sat. III. 20 3— 9. 

'Tis true poor Codrus nothing had to boaft. 
And yet poor Codrus all that nothing loft, 
t In his Jermon on this parable Vol. X. fermon 9, — 
which is fo truly excellent a difcourfe, and wherein he hath 
handled this fubje^l in fo complete and mafterly a manner, 

B 3 that 

6 On the PARABLE 

for I fear that my preaching upon it will have 
no more efFe<5l, than what is intimated in 
the parable, that is very little, if any at all. 
But if you be not wanting to yourfelves in 
hearkning to it, I am fure, you may receive 
great inftrudlion and edification from it : for 
you cannot be infenfible of your great un- 
profitablenels under the means of grace, hav- 
ing heard many hundreds of fermons in your 
life, and yet are no way the better for it, if 
not much worfe : and you cannot but won- 
der v/hat fliould be the reafon of it. In 
this parable you have the reafon plainly fet 
down before your eyes, you may fee where 
the fault Yicxh^ and of confequence, if you 
have any regard for your fouls, amend it 
for the luture. Which that you may do, I 
would defire you to apply what is faid all 
along every one to himfelf andconfider which 
part of the parable toucheth you, or com.eth 
the neareft to your own cafe : for there is 
not a perfon in the congregation, who is not 
particularly concerned in fomething or other 
that is foid in ic as you will all find by that 
time we have gone quite through it/ 

that they who cone i^rer him, muft expe6l to fall very 
fhort. However 1 csnnot atone for my own deficiencies 
bet er, than bv recon:menuin2; in}'' reader to an uuthor, 
where he cannot fail finding f^iiisfadion. 


of the SOWER. 7 

Our Lord delivered the parable from a 
Ihip,* to a great tp.ultitude that flood on the 
fhore : and when his difciples requefted him 
to give them an explanation of it, he began 
that explanation, faying, HEAR TE there- 
fore the parable of the (owe r — to inform both 
them and us, that though all the multitude 
had heard this parable vvith their outward 
ears, yet was there another hearings an hear- 
ing of the heart and underftanding, which 
alone could be termed hearing. The multi- 
tude hearing heard net, neither did they under- 
jiand: the difciples, defirous of learning from 
Chrifly had ears to hear, that fo they might 
underfland with their heart, be converted and 
healed,— Would you, therefore, hear this pa- 
rable, not as the multitude, but as the dif- 
ciples heard it, and to the fame bleffed end, 
that Chri/i may convert and heal your fouls, 
in humble defire requefl him to flicw you 
the truth, to open your hearts, to give you 
the hearing ear and underflanding mind : 
and may he of his infinite love grant you 
all fo to hear, that you may know the myf- 
teries of his kingdom, that you may all un- 
derfland and be converted: that the fctd fown 
may by his grace find ail your hearts that 

* " We fee here a reprefentation of the church which 

- -confifts of the people united to their p-^ilors. Thefe being 

more expofed to vioUnt toflings and ftorms, are as it 

were /// a Jhip^ while thofe c^uitinue at cafe cnthe jJjore.''^ 

B 4 honeji 

8 On tbe P AR ABLE 

honeH and good foil which will bring forth 
fruit, fome an hundred-fold, fome fixty, feme 
thirty ! — Hear ye, therefore , the parable oj the 

Behold a fower went forth tofow, and when 
he fowed, fome Jell by the way-fide, and the 
fowls came and devoured it up. Some fell upon 
Jiony places where it had not much earth, and 
immediately it fprung up *, hecaufe it had no 
deepnefs of earth ; but when the fun was up 
it was fcorchedy and hecauje it had no root it 
withered away. And fome fell among thorns, and 
the thorns grew up and choaked it, and it yielded 
no fruit. But other fell on good ground and 
did yield fruit that fprang up and increafed^ 
and brought forth fome thirty, fome fixiy, fome an 
hundredfold. Who hath ears to hear let him 
hear -f*. 

Such is the parable ; in the explication of 
which there are no difficulties, as our Savi- 

* Sprung up ^r,] Thus .%7W?///tf« faith of the rath- 
ripe wit, that it rarely comes to maturity, comparing it to 
thofe feeds, which being fown in the furface of the earth, 
fpring up quickly, becaufe the root does not go deep into 
it : lUud Ingeniorurn prcscox genus non temere unquam per- 
'venit ad frugem : non ?nultum prceftat fed c'lto — nee pen'itus 
immijfts radlcibus nititur, ut qua; fummo falo fpafa funt 
femina celerius Je effundunt. Inftitut. lib. i. c. 3. p. 16, 
17. See TV! 'itby on the place. 

t F, ^efneie's reflections on this parable, Mark iv.- 
well defer ves the attention of all mmifers of the word. 

our ' 

of the S O W E R. § 

our himfelf hath unfolded it to us : but be- 
fore we come to that, it is obvious and ne-i 
cefTary to remark, that as the fowej\ fo the 
feed is but ojie^ one and the fame in all the 
different foils. He that foweth the good feed ig 
the fon of man, who went forth in the days 
of his flefh to preach the gofpel of the king- 
dom, and who now fows it by xSi^miniJlry^ 
which he hath ordained, and wherewith he 
hath promifed ever to be prejenf^: when 
upon his afcenlion, he gave fome apojUes and 
fome prophets, and jome evangelifs, and fome paf 
tors and teachers, for the fowing of this feed,yir 
the perfe^ing of the faints, for the work of the 
minfry, for the edifying the body of Chrift -f-. 
And the feed is one and the fame, namely 
the word of God, this is the feed of the king- 
dom, the fpiritual feed, whereby we are be- 
gotten anew, for of his own will begat he 
us, with the word of truth, faith St. James, 
that we fjould be a kind of firfi -fruits of hi& 
creatures: and it is compared to feed, ift, 
becaufe of its fmallnefs, a little contemptible 
thing in appearance: as is the word of God 
in outward fhew, fmall and of no reputa- 
tion, the leaft of all feeds, to the yews2L ftum- 
bling-block, and to the Greeks foolifhnefs: 

X Matt, xxviii. 20. t Eph. iv. ii. 


50 0?i the P ARABLE 

2dly, from the frudifying and increafing na- 
ture of feed, which gold and jewels and the 
moft precious metals have not: and fo the 
word of God hath a wonderfully quickening 
nature to regenerate men, and to form in 
their hearts the whole image of Cbriji : 
3dly, as feed while kept locked up in a barn 
or cheft produceth no fruit, fo the word of 
God unlefs fown by preaching into the ears 
and hearts of men continues dead and un- 
fruitful : and 4thly5 as in fowing the feed the 
foil muft be prepared, the fa/low ground miifl 
be broken itp^ as the prophet expreflesl it, and 
the bleffing of heaven give the increafe; fo 
in the preaching the word, unlefs the heart 
be prepared for receiving it, ploughed up by 
lincere repentance and mortification, and the 
dew of God's grace accompany the feed fown, 
there can arife no fruits : which as we cannot 
obtain by our own means and ftrength, preach- 
ers and people fl:iould never fail jointly and 
earneftly to implore the great giver of all 
increafe, for us^ that utterance may be ghen 
unto uSy that we may open our mouth boldly to 
make known the myftety of the gofpel — io: you^ 
that the Lord would open your hearts, that 
you may attend unto the things that are 
fpoken, as Lydia did to PauL 


of the SOWER. 1 1 

Thus you fee the Jower and the feed were 
07ie and the fame in all the different foils : 
from whence it is plain the difference of in- 
creafe could not arife from them ; but as we 
{hall fee, it arofe from the foil, from the 
place where the feed was fown : and though 
it is fad to think, that only one part in four 
of this good feed was fruitful: yet it is fome 
comfort in return to fee, that the w^ord^ 
whenever fown, will not fail of fome good 
fruit, that it fhall not all perifh^ and that the 
reafon why any of it is loft, is neither in the 
fower, nor the feed, but in ourfelves : and fo 
of confequence we may eafily through God's 
grace remove the impediments, if we will : 
this is a material reflection, and renders us 
v/ithout all excufe, if we bring not forth fuch 
fruit, as the gofpel requires. 

But the more fully to fee this, let us confider 
our Lord's explication of this parable. The 
feed was fown at one and the fame time,even as 
now the word is preached to all of you at once; 
but it fell upon different foils, fuch as it is to 
be feared, the word preached will always meet 
with : it fell upon path-ways, by the way- 
fide, in the common road, where the fowls 
came and devoured it up: on rocky ground 
where it had no depth of earth, and fpeedily 
withered away : among thorns, where it was 

choked ; 

12 On the FAR ABLE 

choked; and on good ground, where it brought 
forth fruit. 

Concerning the ift our Saviour fpeaks 
thus : W/:)e?2 any one heareth the word of the 
hngdom and underjiandeth it not^ then cotnetb 
the wicked one^ and catcheth away * that which 
ims [own in his heart : this is he which receiveth 
feed by the way-fide. In St. Mark and St. Luke 
we have the fame explication: all agreeing 
to inform us, that they by the way-fide are 
all fuch, as do indeed hear the word, but 
neither underftand^ regard^ nor J confider it; 
who come with the multitude to the place 
where it is read and preached, who come, as 
the prophet exprelTes it, as the people of 
the Lord come^ who ft bejore him as his 
people^ and hear his words, but they will not 
do them : for their heart mean time goeth af^ 
ter their covetoufnefs. Their thoughts are 
engaged upon other fubjeds : one is think- 
ing of his farm, another of his merchandife: 
one of his yefterday's enjoyments, another of 
his intended gaieties : this of his profits, 

* The birds of the air reprefent Satan, faith Theophy- 
la6f^ becaufe his habitaiion is in the air, the prime of the 
pawcr of the air. 

X This is the force of the original lawmen which fignifies 
not only to underftand, but to ponder, to confider, to lay to 
heart, and to obferve in order to adion — See Whithf^ 
ufeful note on the place. 


of the S O W E R. 13 

that of his pleafures: and fo according as their 
feveral treafures are, there are their hearts al- 
fo -f : but their hearts are not with the Lord. 
No wonder, therefore, the word falleth upon 
them, as upon dry, hard beaten path-ways 
where thefe thoughts do, as it were, tread it 
under foot: while the Devil is careful to 
promote this indifpofition to the word and 
to forward fuch inattention 3 thus like a rapa- 
cious vulture, fnatching up every feed> as foon 
as it falls, left it fhould take root and flourifh. 
So that the great defed here pointed out 
is, comi?7g to hear the word without a iincere 
intention to do it, is hearing it without due 
attention to it, fufferin^ vain and triflino- 
thoughts and imaginations to ingrofs our 
hearts, and fo giving place to the tempter, to 
pluck away all the good feed fown, or intend- 
ed to be fown in it ! — And alas how many 

t The power of the Devil, %s ^isfnelle, over the 
hearts of the children of the vi^orld is greater than it is ima- 
gined, and is not fufficiently dreaded.— The number, di- 
verfity and incumbrance of the affairs of the worlds the 
continual motion and hurry in v^hich worldly men are; 
that chain of emplovments which to appearance are nei- 
ther good nor bad, and of new defigns which fucceed one 
another : and that circle of pleafure?, amufements and va- 
nities : thefe are the things wherein that arc and poiicv 
confifls whi h the Devil ufes, in order to render the w rd, 
good thoughts and g >od delires fruitK-fs, and to take away 
God's feed out of hearts and minds. 


14 On ^/j^ P A R A B L E 

fuch hearers are there — how many who fre- 
quent the church merely thro' form and 
fafliion, to comply with cuftom, to fave ap- 
pearances, merely to maintain a ihew of reli- 
gion : who come with no holy and fettled 
refolutions to believe and to pradile what 
they hear, but rather to fee and be feen> to 
hear with one ear, and let it out at the other, 
or perhaps fo fadly injuring their own fouls, 
to cavil with the preachers words, and to 
pick up objedions againft that truth, which 
they are deteimined not to believe, and much 
more determined not to oradife. Hence there 
is always a general diffipatlon in the religious 
worlhip of fuch, an inattention to the facred 
things of God, a lifllefs drowfinefs while the 
prayers are reading, eyes roving and expreffive 
of fcatter'd thoughts, a readinefs to fall in- 
to converfation, even in the houfe and pre- 
fence of God, unon the moft trifling and fri- 
volous occafions : and v/hi!e the word is 
preachii'g, either wearinefs, Icorn or utter 
inattention is all they will vouchfafe the 
preacher. An idle comedy or a merry tale 
founds far more pleafing in their ears than 
the word of the moft high God, than the good 
and glad tidings of faivation thro' a crucified 
redeemer! who can wonder that Satan, ready 
as he is to forward evil, and to deiiroy our 


of the ^ O^ E R. T5 

fouls, plucks every feed from fuch minds, 
and takes away the word out of their hearts, 
ieji they Jlouid L'^ar and be faved I 

And is it pofTible then, that any of you, 
my brethren, fhould be fo regardlefs of your 
eternal good, fo ready to work with your 
inveterate enemy, as thus to give him the 
power to take away the word out of your 
hearts, lejl you JJ:oidd hear and be faved} If any 
of you, upon a fincere examination of your 
own fouls, find this defcription of the hear- 
ers by the way-fide applicable to yourfelves, 
I befeech you, in love and for the fake of 
Chrijl^ lay it ferioufly to heart, and afk whe- 
ther thefe things ought to be fo — whether it 
is reafonabie for us, fwho are accountable 
beings, and who mud: one day anfwer for all 
your actions, thoughts and words, before the 
awful tribunal of God) to injure and affront 
the high and holy one that inhabiteth eternity^ 
by coming to his houfe, with unholy and 
unbecoming purpofes, by behaving there with 
inattention, and difregard, and by departing 
thence juft as you came in all refpeds, — fave 
that your fins are greatly enhanced by de- 
parting thence no better. .^God forbid, that 
this fliould be your cafe : God forbid that 
thefe words read and preached fliould be a 
means of your future condemnation ! but, 
dearly beloved, confider that the word of 


16 On the ? A R Ah L E 

God doth not operate like a magical charm 
upon mens minds, whether they will or not : 
we are reafonable creatures, and God dealeth 
with us as fuch. On which account it is 
our duty to regard and confider as well as to 
hear, to give our ferious attention to God's 
word, to apply in humble prayer to Chriji 
for underftanding, and to fearch and fee, after 
the example of the Bereans *, whether thefe 
things are lb: and when once we bring this 
humble and teachable mind, this honejl and 
good hearty to the hearing of the gofpel, there 
is no fear of our departing from it unprofited, 
there is no fear, that fatan fliould ever be able 
to take it out of our hearts : for if we never 
give him any entrance ourfelves, he will ne- 
ver find av/ay. Our not attending, not keep- 
ing a fl:ri<fl guard over ourfelves, not laying 
ferioufly to heart what we hear, but thinking 
of and obferving other matters, is the ready 
entrance to the tempter ; who knows, that 
if we hear and underfland we fhall be faved, 
but if we only hear and regard not, we are 
fure prey for him. — Behold therefore I have 
told you: and if now, you do not guard 
againft him, I call heaven and earth to wit- 
nefs againfl you, that your own negligence 

* Ads xvii. n. 


cffheSOWEK. 17 

and inattention will be the fole caufes of your 
ruin : nothing elfe ilands in the way, if you 
will hear, confider attend, and pray Cb?^iji 
the almighty Saviour of mankind hath pro- 
mifed to receive and abundantly pardon you : 
l)e will heal your back Jli dings ^ he will love you 
freely : nay, behold, faith he, 7 7?^;?^^ at the 
door and knock 3 if airy man Ijear my voice and 
open the door^ I will come in unto bim^ and will 
flip with him and he with me ^\ 

Such are the firft fort of hearers: the fecond 
are thofe who are defcribed by the fiony 
growid : he that received the feed into fio7iy 
places^ the fame is he that heareth the word^ and 
anon receiveth it with joy, yet hath he not root 
in hifnfelfy but dureth for a while : for when 
tribulation and perfecution arifeth becaufe of the 
word, by and bye he is offended, and falleth 
away. — This fecond fort of hearers go further 
than the firft : they are glad to hear the word, 
and they receive it with joy -, they receive and 
embrace it with hafty zeal, are rejoiced to be 
told what Chrifl hath Aoixcfor them, delight- 
ed to have the rich promifes of an abfolutely 
unconditional gofpel applied to them % -, are 

Vol. III. C pleafed 

* Rev. iii. 18. 

% This is well expreft in the introdu<flion to that excel - 
lent and ufeful treatife of Dr. IVorthingtori s on felf reftgna- 
tion — It pleafeth men, faith he, to hear of fpeculative doc- 

i8 On //^^ P A R A B L E 

pleafed to hear the vices and faults of the age 
and their neighbours feverely reprehended : 
and while the gofpel brings no inconveni- 
ences, neither thwarts their profits, plea- 
fures, or eafe, who fo loud in its profelTion, 
who fo ftrenuous for the faith of Chrijl as 
they ? But when tribulation and perfecution 
.for the fake of -this word arifeth, when the 
dodlrine of the crojs begins not to be heard 
only, but to be felt by them ; as they have 720 
roQt^ no deep grounded knowledge, no weli- 
iixt principles, no regular light, but hafly 
gleams only ; the darknefs of trouble foon 
overwhelms their minds, and they give up 
the crcfs to obtain v/orldly peacCj flirink from 
prefent fufterings to rufli into eternal ones, 
refign heavenly bappinefs to avoid a little 
earthly fcandal and offence ! The reafon 

t!ines,anj to be entertained with a lujcious preaching of the 
gofpel, made up all oi promt feSy and thefe wholly: it grati- 
fies them to hear what is done withouc them, rather than 
what is to be done within them, and the neceility of fm- 
cere and ent re ob:dience to ourSaviour's precepts; all would 
7'e'gn v/ith Chrift^ but thry will not fffer with him : they 
wo;ild hear only of Chrijf dying for fin, of his being cru- 
cified for them, but to hear ^f their dying to fin, and their 
own rorrupt will, of their being crucified with him. and 
fuffering ther wills to be refigned to the will of the Father, 
as Unill\ wis, to hear of making an entire oblation of 
themfelves to God, this is a haru faytng\ few will bear it, 
it is very ur^pleafing to flefh ai'.d biood &c. See the whole 
treatife, well defer ving a ferious perufal. 


of the SOWER. 19 

of this we are told is, becaufe they have no 
f-oot, no true underflanding of the principles 
of the gofpelj no right affedlions, no deep 
repentance, and lively faith : the ground is 
rocky and hard^ and v^lll not give the feed that 
deep admiflion, which it requires for growth, 
and which can be given by nothing, but un- 
feigned repentance and lively yi/V/?, built upon 
the promifes of the gofpel. V/here thefe are 
not, they^w^ Sun -^ which cherifhes and ripens 
the good {ttd>^ the fame trial and perfecution 
which eitabliflies the real believer, will parch 
up and caufe the temporary profefTor to wi- 
ther away. This is indeed a fad cafe, for it 
is better never to have known the Vv^ay of 
righteoufnefs, than after we have known it 
to turn from the holy commandment deliver- 
ed unto us ! yet how many fuch hearers hath 
Cbrifi always had, who have for fome time 
followed him, and been pleafed with his 
words and works, but at length turned away 
becaufe of fome of his hard fay in gs^ and walk- 
ed no more ix)itb him^ : who have delired to 
enter into life, hut de farted forrovful y becaufe 

f By the fun rlHiig uiiderrrancl temptations, fays Theo- 
phylo'^-i becaufe temptaiioiis fiiew men, and mani'eft them, 
as the fun doth hidden tilings — Oi'Tcn^oca-uoi ^nKwas-t rug ap9pA>- 

* Jo n» vl. 6c, 66. 

C 2 they 

ao On /& P A R A B L E 

they could not prevail with themfelves iofell 
all and follow him : who have been ahnojl per^ 
fuaded to be chriftians, but afraid of being 
altogether fo, left — left what? left they ftiould 
lofe the pleafures of fin; left they (liould enjoy 
the pleafures of holinefs ! 

Times of perfecution have always made 
great difcoveriesof this fort; and tho' — bleflfed 
be the God of heaven, — we are at prefent free 
from the danger of the ftake, and have 7iot 
yet refifted unto blood ; yet we muft not 
miftake, as if now there were no tribulation- 
or perfecution becaufe of the word, whereby 
men are offended and fall away. For St. Paul 
pofitively and peremptorily declares, that All 
who will live godly in Chnjl Jefus pall Juffer 
perfecution : and this perfecution is to try us j, 
fad will it be, if we are not found faithful, 
but are offended^ and fo jail away, — I heartily 
wi(h there may be none fuch in this congre- 
gation : but it is to be feared there are fome 
things in the crofs of Chriji^ which may fliake 
the weaknefs of fome ill-grounded faith, and 
which, when experienced, may work difguft 
and diflike, rather than increafe hope, if we 
have no root, — And let us afic, what is it 
really that keeps fo many profeffors from em- 
bracing the gofpel in its power and fpiritual ex- 
tent : what is it that caufes fuch an harveft of 


of de S O W E K. 21 

nominal, and fuch a fpare gleaning of real 
chriftlans ? — Are wc not afraid, that the fcofts 
and reproaches of our acquaintance and others 
may fall upon us for our ffifFnefs and precife- 
nefs, our Gver^fmich right eoujnefs^ fas they are 
fond to flyle a confcientious difcharge of duty) 
when we will not run the fame length of riot 
with them 5 but for confcience fake abftain 
from the fadiionable vices and pleafures of 
the age ? are we not afraid of a hard name, 
a title of reproach, which the men of this 
world feem pleafed to fix upon thofe who 
would live godly in Chrijl jcfas, thus unde- 
iignedly doing the greateft honour to the 
caufe they would mean to depreciate ? are we 
afraid our interefts fhould be hurt, our trades 
fuifer, our cuftomers diillke us, that therefore 
we dare not ad: and live as becometh the holj 
difciples of a holy mafter ? or is it, becaufe we 
fear our fenfual appetites will be offended, as 
they, 'tis true, muft be denied, muft be 
mortified : and as we are unwilling to be at 
enmity w^ith them, and therefore chufe rather 
to be at enmity with the God, who died to 
fubdue and crucify them ! however it is, that, 
when we have better knowledge, we do not 
pradlile agreeably thereto, fway'd by worldly 
motives of whatever fort, mov'd by fear or 
trouble of whatever kind — then we are of- 

C 3 fended 

22 On the ? AR ABLE 

fended at Cbrtjfi'?, gofpel, then we fall away, 
and like the feed fown upon the rock, (hall 
be parched up, and become bafe ftubble, fit 
only to be burned! 

Take heed, therefore, that you be rooted 
and grounded in Ch?'il}, and built up in faith : 
in order to which not only hear, but labour 
to underftand, by fearching the fcripturcs 
diligently, and by reading the book of your 
own hearts, with humble application for 
God's Spirit: See that your repeiitance be deep, 
unfeigned, fmcere : that your faith ha lively, 
ftrong and operative : that your love be ac- 
tive, zealous and uniform. And reniem- 
bring that trials are only fent of Gou to 
prove us, learn to fubmit to his divine will, 
and to perfevere in the mid ft ot trials, for 
perfeveranceis the only virtue that is crowned : 
if v/e fail off, ail our former good works will 
be for^^oticn ; for when I Jh all fay to the r^ghte- 
oiis^ faith God, that he J]:all jureiy live : if he 
tru;l to his own righteoiifncji and commit ini- 
quity, alibis rigbteoifefs falhwt be rcnkjubcred, 
kilt fr his iniquity that he bath committed^ be 
ftali Jureiy die for it. But as the iniquity of 
the once righteous iliall prove their deftruc- 
tion, fo God in return haih promifed, that 
the repentance of the wicked fliail aflliredly 
lave their fouls alive. Jgain nzhcn I Jay unto 


of the S O W E R. 23 

the imcked^ thou Jljalt furely die : if he turn 
from hisfn, and do that which is lawful and 

right y he ftdull furely live, he/hall not die. 

So that here again I call you all to record, 
that if any man amongft you, through per- 
fecution and tribulation, fo'r Chrijfs fake and 
the gofpel, hath been offended, it is yet his 
ov/n fault, if he utterly fall away and periflij 
there is yet life and mercy for him, if he 
will turn from his fin and do the frjl works % : 
and that, if any man who now feemeth to 
rejoice in the gofpel oiChrijl^ is yet offended 
through fear and upon the apprehenfion of 
perfecution and trouble for Chriff^ fake, let 
him know his prefent joy is not fincere, the 
word hath no deep root in him ; he hath no 
true underflanding, no fundamental know- 
ledge of the gofpel, no inward and efficacious 
Jealmg of the Spirit on his confcience. And 
therefore fhould any of you find a diflike, 
difrelifh, or acoldnefs to the gofpel, becaufe, 
by the malice of Satan and his inftruments 
evil men, you are tried with the principal 
trial of this day, with cruel mockings, or op- 
probrious tiames, fly to God in this ftaue of 
danger and hazard to your fouls, as yet your 
faith is weak, and without any root — but feek 
and you fhall find, pray for more increafe, 

X Rev. ii. 5. 

C 4 and 

24 On the PARABLE 

^nd you (hall have it, attend upon Chri/i in 
in his word and facraments, humbly wait up- 
on him in all his appointed means, and pa- 
tiently fubmit to his good pleafure ; and then 
fear not, bat the rock will at length be beaten 
down in your heart by the hammer of the 
word, and the good feed fown will fo take 
root, as to fpring up and increafcy and to 
bring forth fruit abundantly. 

Thus I have fpoken of two out of the four 
forts of hearers which our Saviour mentions 
in this parable of the fower : a parable de- 
ferving the ferious attention of every chriftian 
as much as any in the gofpel : becaufe it f) 
clearly opens to us the caufes of the vifible ill 
fuccefs of the gofpel amongft men, and fhews 
that the fault is neither in the fower nor the 
feed, but in ourfelves : and I hope you will 
make it matter of diligent examination to 
your hearts: for which reafon I have been 
the larger upon it, and purpofely poftponed 
the remaining part, that our contemplations 
may be renewed upon it. — Be not like the 
hearers by the way- fide, either wholly diL 
regard, or make even thefe words delivered 
folely for your good, a means of mockery, 
and infinite prejudice to your fouls. Confi- 
der, that if you do fo, yours alone is the lofs, 
you harm only your ov/n fouls ^ and while 


of the SOWER. 25 

defplfing the word of God as preached by 
the minifters of Chrift, remember, that you 
defpife not them, but Chrijt and not Chrijt 
but his Father ah'b : for he that defpifeth you^ 
faith Chrift, defpifeth me^ and he that defpfeth 
me, defpfeth not me, but him that fent me : and 
again, he thej'-ejore that defpifeth, faith the apof- 
tle, defpifeth not man but God, who hath alfo 
given unto us his holy Spirit, Endanger not, 
therefore, by this or any other means your 
fouls eternal health, your everlafting falva- 
tion. For falvation, my brethren, is a great 
concern : and it is every man's great con- 
cern : if our fouls perifh everlaftingly, what 
vanity of vanities will all our paft cares and 
fears be found to us ! — We know that there 
is but one road to falvation, one way to life : 
and we can be directed only in that way by 
072e book, the word of God, where we are 
taught concerning hi?n, who is the way, the 
truth, and the hfe. Faith cometh by hearing 
this word : the bleflings of the gofpel are pro- 
cured only by /i///6, evangelical, lively, ope- 
rative /}////:?: fuch as was that oi Abraham' ^^ 
and by which we are juftified freely through 
grace. So that our falvation plainly dependsupon 
our hearings as the main iiflrument, for if h^ faith 
we zxtjaved, ^.ndijaith cometh by hearing-, if we 
do not hear fo as to obtain this faith, it is evi- 


26 0;? /'fo P A R A B L E 

dent, we cannot be faved. Hence then you 
fee, how much more important, than per- 
haps you may have imagined, the faithful hear- 
ing of the gofpel, as well as how great a 
bleffing the fincere and uncorrupt preaching 
of it is j and how wife and neceflary that 
caution of our Saviour's is to us all, Take 
heed, how you hear ; fince if you hear not pro- 
perly, you can never obtain that faith which 
Cometh by hearing -, and fince if you hear 
improperly you enhance your own condem- 
nation, knowing your Lord's will, and doing 
it not : I will therefore clofe the prefent dif- 
courfe with a few general diredions, teach- 
ing you HOi'F to hear : and I pray God, the 
giver of all increafe, that he would incline 
all your hearts fo to hear as to underfiand> 
fo to* under ftand as to believe and be faved \ 
For Oh ! how fad a fight will it be, my be- 
loved friends and brethren, for us, who have 
now all the means of grace in our power, to 
ftand before the tribunal of our judge, con- 
demning and condemned, and hearing then 
too late, kow we ought to have heard : hew 
it was our duty and would have been our hap- 
pinefs to have liftened to the glad tidings of 
a pardoning God ! bleli'ed be his name, that 
we have lived to hear this ! may we not now 
hear in vain ! 


of the SOWER. 27 

In order to which, ift, Come to the hear- 
ing of the word with honeft and good hearts, 
with a fincere defire, and fingle intention to 
know and to do your duty. Let not curiofi- 
ty, form or fafhion bring you to church, but 
come with meeknefs to receive the engrafted 
wordy which is able tofave your fouls, 

2dly, As coming with fincere intentions, 
labour when you are come to give diligent 
heed to the things that are fpoken -, beware 
of levity, and inattention of behaviour, the 
fure confequence of which is grieving the 
good Spirit of God, and giving place to the 
power and fuggeftions of Satan: remember 
always that you are in the courts of the houfe 
of the God of glory, that you come to pray 
to, and to praife him, and to hear his word : 
and fureiy the word of God deferves your moft 
ferious regard : if the embafly of a mortal 
king w^ould raife all your attentions, how much 
more fhould the embafly of the king of 
kings : Now then (fays St. Paul) we are am- 
bafjadors for Chrift; as though God did befeech 
you by us^ we pray you in Chrifl'i fead be ye 
reconciled to GOD "*. 

3dly, Beware, that you injure not your 
own fouls by entertaining any prejudice a- 
gainfl your ininijlcr: confider our words, 
weigh their agreement v/ith fcripture, and 

* 2 Cor. V. 20. 


28 On tbe P ARABLE 

the dodrines of the church whereof you are 
members : and let not any cunning craftinefs 
of men or devils perfuade you to rejed them, 
merely becaufe this or that man delivers them, 
with whom you fee fome caufe to be diffa- 
tisfied, and in whofe condudc you may fup- 
pofe fome improprieties: remember how ve- 
ry hard it is to arrive at the true motives of 
aftion, and how difficult often to judge 
in the cleareft matters of fad. Confi- 
der moreover that we of the C/tTgy are 
but 77ie?2 : and though in truth it is our duty 
to keep a confcience void of the leaft offence 
both towards God and towards men, as well 
as to labour by the exemplary holinefs of our 
lives to be fhining patterns to the flock ; yet 
perfeclion is not the attainment of mortals, 
and v/e cannot expedt to be free from error, 
while furrounded with a body of flefli. It 
is happy when our <^oi?7g and teaching go hand 
in hand — and oh how much is this to be 
wiflied and prayed for in all the minifters of 
Chriji ! but if we mifcarry, it is not our ac- 
tions, but our dodrine that concerns you : and 
let us remember that in this happy nation of 
ours, the negligence of paflors (^though an 
unfpeakable evil and much to be deplored) 
will be no excufe for ihd^K. people^ who have 
the word of God itfelf in their own language, 
to read and to gather inftrudion from, in the 


of the SOWER. 29 

way of righteoufnefs. For if the watchman 
blow 720t the trwnpety and the people be Jiot 
warned : if the Jword come and take any per [on 
from among them^ he is taken away in his ini^ 
qnitjy but his bkod will I require at the watch* 
man's hand. — And as you fhould avoid all pre- 
judices againft, fo fliould you as much as 
poiTible all flrong prejudices to the perfon 
of any paftor, fo depending upon him, as to 
believe his word, upon his authority, and not 
as the word of God * > if you do fo, as hav- 
ing no root, be affured you will be fcorch'd up 
and wither away in time of periecution 
and trial : Take heed that you err not in this 
particular, oppofmg Paul to ApoUos, and Jpol- 
los to Cephas^ for we are all but the minillers 

* See Archbifhop Leighton^s thirteenth fermon on the 
Parable of the Sower, the paragraph begmning — When:e 
then is the difference ? &c. " Above all, f.ys he, toward:, 
the conclufion, pray before, after and in hearing, dart up 
defires to God, he is the Lord of the harveft, whofe in- 
fluence (k)th all ; the difference of the foil makes indeed 
the difference oi fuccefs, but the Lord hath the privilege 
of bettering the foil. He that framed the heart, changes 
it when and how he will. There is a curfe on all grounds 
naturally, that fell on the earth for man's fake, but fell 
more on the ground of man's own heart within him, 
norns aid briars fmlt thou bring forth. Now 'tis he 
that denounced that curfe, that alor.e hath power to re- 
move it, he is both the fovereign owner of the feed, and 
changer of the foil, turns a wildernefs into Camel, by 
his Spirit, and no ground, no heart can be good, till he 
chano;e it. ' 


30 0;z the PARABLE 

of one Lord, the fervants of one mafter, the 

meffengers of one falvation, and Chrijl is not 


4thlyj Coming thus with pure and fincere 
defires, hearing thus with diligent heed and 
attention, and entertaining no prejudices for 
or againft the man, who is only the bare 
inftrument of delivering that truth, which, 
through grace, is able to fave your fouls ; re- 
member always to m.ake a particular appli- 
cation of the word preach'd to your own 
hearts : and let the queftion of "Jejus to Mar- 
tha * ever be prefent to your thoughts, — Be- 
lievejl thou this ? Do not confider how it fuits 
others, and hits their cafe, but lay your hand 
upon your breaft, and afk, with the difciples. 
Lord, is it I? 

And laflly having thus received the feed, 
be careful as you prepared the ground, by 
lincere prayer and defires, fo to clofe and 
water it therewith : pray to God as well 
bejore as //7 and after the word, for his 
blefiing both upon the preacher and your- 
felves, that he may fpeak with power, that 
you may bear with humility and faith, with 
obedience and underflanding. And if thus 
your earneft prayers afcend to God for his 
blefiing, you need not doubt of obtaining it: 

* See Sermons on the Miracles, vol. II. p. 461. 


of the S O W E R. 31 

the word v/ill be found efFe6lual, to the en- 
lightening your under (landing and the build- 
ing you up in the faith of Chriji, 

T!ake heed therefore how you hear : and let 
it be always under fuch difpolitions as thefe; 
and then by the bleffing of Almighty God, 
we fhall be fruitful indeed in every good 
word and work, and produce fome an hun- 
dred, fome lixty, fome thirty-fold, &V. 


On the Parable of the Sower, 
PARI' ir. 

Luke viii. 14, 15. 

j^nd that 'which fell amo7ig thorns are the)\ 
which whejt they have heard ^ go forth, and are 
choked with cares y and riches and fleajures of 
this life^ and bring no fruit to perfeBion, 

But that on the good ground are thcy^ which 
in an honejl and good hearty having heard the 
word, keep ity and bri^ig forth fruit with pa^ 

Wmm^ HEN our hleffed Lord was in- 
^ W W terrogated by a curious hearer, who 
^ 5^ was more follicitous to be informed 

k-^^Mj«( of the falvation of others, than to 
fecure that of his own foul. Lord, are there few 
that jloall he fanjed? he did not think fit tofatisfy 
the inquifitive difpofition of this perfon, but 


Ou fl)e V AR A BL E, &c. 33 

rather advifed him to a ferious ufe of this que- 
ftion for his foul's eternal welfare. He faid 
unto him, firive to enter in at the fir ait 
gate^ do not make enquiries, whether many 
or few (liall be faved ; but ufe thy utmojl en- 
deavours to fecure this bleffing to thyfelf: 
for there is need of thy utmojl firiving : feeing 
I declare it unto thee as an infallible truth, 
that many will SEEK to enter in^ a- J I hall 
not be able : as only f?eking w\\h feeble efforts, 
not flrivijig with all their might, and labour^ 
ing with all their power, as in a great and 
noble conteji^^to attain that ineftimable prize, 
everlafting life. - So we, whenever we hear 
the gofpel of Chrifi^ Ihould be by all means 
careful to avoid any curious enquiries into the 
cafe and ftate of others ; while we labour 
with the utmofl diligence to apply the words 
of this falvation to ourfelves, and take care 
to fecure its benefits to our own fouls. This 
would be one fure method to defeat the pur- 
pofes of the tempter, to drive away thofe evil 
birds, the infernal fpirits, that are ready to 

* All this feems ftjily and beautifully e^prcfTeJ in the 
original word, which we tranfiatey/r w, aywvifrsQi, — from 
ayuf^2i conteji^ CorneL a Lapide wtW cx^jlams u,— — cuJUeii- 
dite, agonizate, & qaafi \i\ a^one & agonia contenditc, ex- 
tremas fiimmafque vires vcrlut agonizintes cxerce. q .'all 
pro vita, fi vincitis, vel morte, fi viiicimin', lucbturi. See 
Leigh's Critica facra^ a work of the greateft ufe for all 
ftudents m the Greik Tellament. 

Vol. UI. D take 

34 0?i the PARABLE 

take away the word out of our hearts that \t 
may not anfwer the end of the divine Sower 
by bringing jorth jruit with patience. 

This parcfble was not intended to exercife 
our curiofity, indulge our malevolence, or 
enhapxe our condemnation, but like the 
whole of Chrifl's gofpel delivered to a- 
\Vakt: ■ our attention, aroufe our negligence, 
£hew us the great caufes of our manifold un- 
profitablenefs under the means of grace, and 
of confequence the fure way of improvement 
by removing thofe obftacles. It is a very a- 
[arming parable : (hewing us, what is v/on- 
derful to thinks that, not thro* any defedt in 
the Sower or the Seed, in Chri/l or his gofpel, 
not through any abfolute decree or fore-or- 
dination of God, but thro' the corruption of 
the human heart, and the default of fallen na- 
ture, thro' our own voluntary perverfenefs and 
difregard to thefe things.— only one part m 
four of the hearers of the gofpel, for the 
moft part, are obedient to it ! one cannot be 
furprifed that Turks and Infidels, Heathens 
and Defpifers of the word of God, thofe who^ 
either pofTefs not that invaluable bleffing, or 
thofe who rejedl and contemn it when in their 
power, that thefe fhould be unfruitful, dif- 
obedient, unholy. But that in a land where 
the gofpel is publicly profeffed, where it is 
continually read and preached, where bibles 


of the S O W E R. 35 

are in every hand : that in a congregation, 
who aflemble on purpofe to praife and adore 
the Lord and giver of this word, to fit and 
hear it : — that in fuch a land, and fuch con- 
gregations, any fhould be found unfruitful, 
is aftonifhing indeed to reafon and to faith, 
feeing this G of pel is the power of God unto fal- 
vatio?L — The prefent parable ferves well to 
fatisfy the anxious and inquiring mind in this 
awakening particular: which dire(5i:ing us to 
the natural iinfulnefs and corruption of the 
human heart, fliews us that from thence, and 
thence only, proceed the great impediments 
to the gofpel, and that it is neither from the 
Sower nor the feed, but from ourfelves on- 
ly that this unfruitfulnefs proceeds. An in- 
formation at once full of terror and comfort: 
Comfort in that we are alTured, there remains 
no obftacle to our falvation, no horrible decree 
excluding us from all eternity, are we but 
ourfelves really and truly defirous to be 
faved : if we will but bring the willing mind, 
the grace of God and the love of Jejiis will 
make the feed fruitful in our hearts. Full 
cf terror^ in that we are alTured our mouths 
mud be ftopt, and we muft plead guilty be- 
fore God, who fliall have nothing to urge in 
our defence, on the day of trial, but with 
Ihame and confufion of face fhall be order'd 
to depart from him^ who have bid his word 

D 2 de- 

36 On % P A R A B L E 

depart from us, either by our inattention to 
it, fear of perfecution and trial for it, or pre- 
ference of the cares, and riches and pleafures 
of this world to it ! — O how fad will it be, 
then to perceive the gofpel of life and of love 
become unto us a favour of death and of 
mifery ! That we might avoid its terrors and 
be made partakers of its ccmfortSy I propofed 
to confider the parable of the fower, that 
each of you applying it to your own hearts, 
and feeing therein, as in a glafs, your own de- 
feats, and the obftacles to your fruitfulnefs, 
might be ftirr'd up to a ferious fenfe of your 
danger, and an immediate removal of thofe 
obftacles, left you alfo Ihould be broken off. 

With this view, we confidered, ifl, The 
cafe of the feed falling by the "way-fide^ and 
devoured by the fowls of the air, and found 
it, from our Saviour's explanation, applicable 
to the i?iattentive carelefs hearers of God's 
word, who come to church for form or faflii- 
on, or becaufe other folks do: but with no de- 
fign to prefent unto God the acceptable fervice 
of a devout heart, or to hear his word to the 
faving of their fouls, and who depart from 
the church unedified as they entered^ having 
heard with one ear, and let it out with the 
other. Thefe, be fure, can never bring forth 
fruit, for if the feed never is admitted into 


oftheSOWE R. 37 

the ground, but fuftered to lie on the top of 
\\\Q beaten path^ it will foon be devoured by 
the birds, or troden under foot by the paf- 

fcngers. Afk now each one their own 

heart, is it i? am I fuch an hearer of the 
word? don't revolve in your mind, who and 
who in the congregation come to church and 
hear in this manner : but fincerely defirous 
to fave your own fouls, fearch and let confci- 
ence reply, whether you are or are not fuch 
a hearer? If you are, by all means labour to 
remove, thro' grace, thefe obftacles to your 
falvationj come with holy purpofes and a 
fingle eye to God's houfe, and hear with 
prayer and fervent defire to gain inftru(!tioa 
in righteoufnefs. — But if you will not remove 
thefe impediments, and are refolved to remain 
in your prefent ftate, do not deceive your- 
felves, you are condemned already * : your 
continuance in a ftate of wrath is wholly ow- 
ing to yourfelves, when free redemption is 
offered to you ; and you can have nothing to 
plead at the bar ofjuftice, why fentence fliould 
not pafs upon you. 

The fearful and timorous, the half con- 
vinced and almoft chriftians, who have no 
deep grounded convidion, faith, and know- 

John iii. 1?. 

D 3 ledge 

38 On /Zv P A R A B L E 

ledgeof the doctrine oi ih^ gofpcl, which is the 
dod'trine ot the crofs, are reprefented to us 
2dly by the feed which fell upon a rock, 
where having no root, it was parched up by 
the fun, a.nd withered away. Afflictions and 
perfecutions do not make us inlincere, but 
find us fo : they try us, as in a furnace ; and 
if we cannot ftand the lire, confume us. This 
is a fure fign that the word hath no deep 
root in us, that we have but little knowledge 
of, little love for the crucified Jefus, who is 
a fuffering Saviour, who hath gone before us, 
bearing the crofs, who hath afTured us, that 
we muft in this refped: be like our mafter, 
and where apoftles have declared, that thro' 
much tribulation we muft enter into the king- 
dom of God. — Take heed therefore, that you 
be not ofFsnded, when troubles and trials fall 
upon you for Cbrifi'sfake ; nay rather remem- 
ber the wife man's advice, my fon, ij thou come 
to (erve the Lord, prepare thy foul for temptation 
nay, rather remember the words, I fliould 
have faid, of a much "wifer than he, bleffedare 
ye, njohen men jhall hate you^ and when they /kail 
feparate 'sou from their comhany, and fijall re^ 
prodch you, and fl:all caji out your name as evily 
for lb.: SON OF MAN'S SJKE—Obfevvc 
folely/cr the Son of mans fake, muft this ha- 
ired to you arife, that this blefjednefs may fol- 
low ^ 

of fBe S O W E R. 39 

low : and when thus reviled and hated for 
his fake, rejoice ye i?i that day ^ leap J or joy ^ be 
exceeding glad : fo far from falling away and 
being offended, we muft even leapiov joy, and 
a good reafon there is, our Saviour affures us, 
for great is your reward in heaven I you fee 
therefore hov/ little reafon there is to be of- 
fended in time of temptation, or to fall away 
when perfecution arifeth for Chri/h fake and 
the gofpelj; there is then no reafon to fear, and 
if we do fear, and fo fall away, it is becaufe 
we have no root, Striv-e therefore to get more 
and more convidions of fin, more and deeper 
knowledge of the freenefs of God*s grace and 
the love of Chriji^ more and more underftand- 
ing of the riches of his exceeding mercy : and 
then you will be able to ftand in the evil day 5 
you will be able to receive and embrace your 
Saviour's divine counfel, I fay unto you, my 
Jriends, — O what a word of love is that from 
the mouth of the incarnate God — MY 
FRIENDS, be not afraid of them that kill the 
body^ and after that have no more that they can 
do-, but I will forewarn you, whom you Jhall fear \ 
fear him^ who when he hath killed, hath power to 
aaji into hell, I fay unto you, fear him -f 

This is a fure remedy for the fecond fort 
of unprofitable hearers. — But alas what reme- 

♦ Luke xii. 5. 

D 4 <3y 

40 On the F A R A B L E 

dy fliall we find for the Hid ? who, as it is to 
be feared, being the moil numerous, fo are 
alfoin the moft dangerous ftate of all the reft? 
but God is powerful and grace is triumphant: 
and the fame call, which brought M^/r/;^i£/' from 
the receipt of cuftom, which render'd Zac- 
cbeifS jwik and charitable, which filled impure 
Magdalene with chafte and holy love, can now 
work the fame work for us, and call us from 
the carcs^ the riches , and the lujis and p.ea- 
Ju^es of this life ; can root out thefe thorns 
from our hearts, can turn the ftream of our 
cares, defires, and pleafures, to other and 
better objecfls, and make us a$ anxious for 
divine treafures as we are now for the poor 
perifhing riches of this world ! and may he in 
infinite love efFed this mighty change where- 
ever needful, for which purpofe it may con- 
duce under divine grace to confider the true 
eftimation of thefe things, and the efFedt they 
have upon the word of God, 

Some of the feed, we are told, fell among 
thorns : and the thorns, grov/ing up together 
with it choked and fuffocated it : fo that it 
could bring forth no fruit to perfedion: which 
our Saviour unfolds thus — That which fell 
amon^ thorns are they^ which when they have 
heard, go forth and are choked with cares and 
riches, and p^ea fares of this Uf\ and bring no 
fruit to prfc^ion^ 


of the S OW ^ R. 41 

See then how worldly cares, riches and plea^ 
fures are cftimated in the fight of the great 
God, and of confequence, what they are really 
inthemfelves ! the God of truth compares them 
to fufFocating thorfjs : and their efFed: upon 
the word fown in the heart, is Hke that of 
thorns and briars upon good feed fown among 
them. He would be judged a very unfkilful 
farmer who fhould fow his feed upon his land, 
when that land had never been ploughed and 
prepared, but was moreover quite overgrown 
with thorns and thiftles and briars. No man 
would wonder if he fhould be difappointed 
and reap no crop. And the cafe is exadly 
parallel with thofe who come to hear and re- 
ceive the word of God with an heart over-run 
with the cares, riches and pleafures of this 
world : though the feed may be fown there, 
and like Herod with yoh?7, they may hear gladly 
and do many things ^ yet while thefe evil thorns 
grow up together with it, the fure confequence 
is, that they will draw all the nourifhment 
from the corn, and in fine utterly fufFocate 
and deftroy it. For it is impofiible to ferve 
two mafters : Chri/l hath no agreement with 
this world : the fame land cannot produce a 
good crop of corn and be over- run with briars 
and thiftles: fo that if we fuffer ihtk three 
t:vi!s, or any cue of them to reign in our hearts, 


4i 0« //&^ P A R A B L E 

the Aire confequence is, that they will deftroy 
the good feed, though we receive it never fo 
cordially, and fo choke it as to render it ut- 
terly unfruitful : and that this is their natural 
tendency we fhall foon fee, if we confider fe- 
parately the nature of thefe three great ene- 
mies to holinefs; nay, I fhould rather fay, our 
own experience fully convinceth us, that when 
the cares, the riches, and the pleafures of this 
life, have hold of our hearts, the care of the 
foul, the riches of futurity, and the pleafures 
at God's right hand are little regarded, nay, 
rather are quite choked and fuffocated. 

And I ft, for the cares of this world. It is 
not to be fuppofed that our Saviour condemns 
here, that reafonable care and regard for our- 
felves and families, which is a main branch 
of true religion : but the cares he condemns 
are over-anxious, diftruftful, repining, un- 
eafy, reftlefs cares and folicitudes, the very 
anguilli and torture of the mind *. " Thofe 
diftrading w^orldly cares, which fill our heads 
fo full of contrivances, and fo employ our 
time, that we are not at leifure ferioufly to 
think upon and carefully to purfue the con- 
cernments of our fouls." Thefe are entang- 
ling, vexing, fcratching, vWttkorfjs^ whofe end 
is only to be burned : which will lufFer no- 

* See TVh'itby in loc. 


of the S O W E R. 43 

thing to grow near them, they fo over-run the 
foil, and draw all the nourifliment to them- 
felves : ftrong briars they are, amongft which 
it is impoffible to walk, without being holden 
and entangled by thern. " Though a man 
be never fo well difpofed, if his thoughts be 
diftraded and perplexed about worldly things, 
it is impoffible he fhould either be or do good. 
They who are careful and cumbered ^howX. many 
things, cannot fet at the feet of fefus, and 
attend to the one thing needful. It is impof- 
fible a man's mind and heart can be wholly 
engaged by two things at once : and there- 
fore our' Saviour faith, we cannot ferve God and 
mammon : it is utterly impoffible to be a fer^ 
vant to the cares and love of this world, 
and zfervant of God alfo. For a man whofe 
thoughts are only engroffed by the getting, 
keeping and enjoying the things of this world> 
though he may pretend to religion and en- 
deavour to pradlife it, yet will he have very 
fufficient proof, that his worldly cares will 
always be uppermoft, will prefent themfelves 
in prayer and in every good work, blunt the 
edge of his holy defires, and keep his eyes 
and heart from that heavenly kingdom which 
fhould always obtain our chief concern. For 
but GJie thing is 72eedful — abfolutely, fimply, fo : 
we were created not for this world, but to live 


44 On tbe P ARABLE 

with God in eternal glory ; our cafe fhould 
therefore be chiefly engaged by that which 
is the chief, the only valuable end of our 
creation. In our endeavours after which how 
do thefe fame worldly cares entangle and per- 
plex us : they choke all our beft reiolutions, 
keep full pofl^effion of the heart, tie us down 
to this world 3 and like thorns prick and 
wound us : fo that a heart enflavtd by worldly 
cares and anxieties is diftraded and reftlefs, 
entangled in its walk, and wounded every 
ftep by the furrounding briars, and of confe- 
quence can never quietly and peaceably at- 
tend to the main care, the care of the foul : 
and fo can never pleafe, can never bring forth 
fruit unto God. 

2. That worldly cares and anxieties are thus 
perplexing and fuffocating, fcarceany one will 
deny: — but riches^ the grand purfuit of ail 
mankind, the bleffing of life, the gift of hea- 
ven, how can this, will the wealthy man afk, 
and the poor man wonder, how can this be 
applied to them ! — Here again it is neceffary 
to diftinguiflij for we muft not fuppofe that 
God hereby condemns riches in themfelves, 
which are his gift, and when rightly ufed, 
become great bleifings * : but as we fliall fee 


* Cur Saviour, faiih TheophylaSl^ cjoth not fay, th: t 
this world chukcb ihe word, but the care of ti js world : 


of the S O W E R, 45 

it is the trufting in them, the placing our 
hearts upon them, which caufes them to 
choke the divine word ; and when we do fo, 
our portion of worldly goods, whether great 
or fmall, become thor?is : for it is not nches^ 
but the deceit fulnejs * of them, and the love 
of this world confequent upon that deceit^ 
that ties down and enflaves the heart : an evil 
arifing as frequently from moderate poiTeffions 
as exorbitant wealth. Riches^ therefore, or 
worldly poffeffions then choke the word when 
they gain our hearts: when we are not only 
over and above earneft, but tranfcend the 
bounds of right and honefty, in the purfuit of 
them ; when we are felf-fatisfied in the pof- 
feffion of them : when they are ufed to wrong 
purpofes, as inftruments of pride, pleafure 
and ambition, and not applied as the gifts 
of God, and as inftruments of benevolence 
and charity ; and when they draw our afFec- 

nor riches, but the deceitfubiefs cf riches. For riches, 
when difperfed^ do not chote^ but caufe the word to in- 
areafe. O'CT.^tfTof yao oratv crK.i^TrK7-B-/i, ov o-v^irv^yHf a7^» av^ccvit 
TO? >^oyoy. 

* H ccTTur'n tk tjAutw, a very e'egant phrafe, as one ob- 
ferves, and adnnraoJy expreirive of {ho. various artifices by 
which people in the puriuit of riches excufe theinfelves 
from day today in putting o^ religious ftfr(?j,and of the con- 
founding; dif appointment^ which often mingles itself with 
their labours^ and e^en with their fuccefs . Of this we fnall 
fee hereafter a ilrong tcflimony in the cafe oftiie rich f yd. 


46 On the P A R A B L E 

tions towards them, and from the divine trea-* 
fares where thofe affedions (hould be. They 
do then indeed choke the word. And there- 
fore our Saviour declares, that if is eafier for 
a camel to go through a needle's eye^ than for 
arichjnan^ who TRUSTETH in his riches^ 
and makes the. fine gold his confidence^ to enter 
into the ki?7gdom of heavf^n. Whenever we 
tnijl in them, we make them our God,, and 
fp commit the mofl heinous and abominable 
fin, that oi idolatry : for covet oufnefs is idolatry: 
and they are very deceitful^ very apt to gain 
the heart, and to incline us to truH in 
them : wherefore v^^e are warned by the 
great apoftle, not to tnifl in uncertain and 
deceitful riches^ but in the living God^ who 
can never fal^ lor deceive us : feeing they, 
not only who are rich, but who defire to 
be fo, who burn with that deadly and ever 
increafmg thirft to add filver to gold, and 
gold to filver — fall into temptation and ajnare^ 
and into many fcolijh and hurtful lufis^ which 
drown men in dejlruBioii and perdition : for the 
love of money is the root of all evil : fo that rea- 
fon good there is, why our Saviour fhould 
compare to thorns, that which hath fuch a 
manifefl: tendency to fuffocate the divine word 
in the heart, and to prevent the good feed 
from bringing forth fruit to perfedion. 


of the S Q W E R. 47 

It IS remarkable, that our Saviour here 
places riches in the midft between cares and 
fleafures : for cares generally precede the 
gaining of riches^ and vvhen gain'd they draw 
men into pkafures and indulgencies : thus 
wounding the foul on both fides ; and ia 
the end, when thefe riches muft be forfaken, 
thefe earthly, dearly beloved treafures, Oh 
how grievous it is to part, O what terrible 
torture to go and leave behind all a man holds 
dear^ to go to a place where he neither has 
nor wi(hes to have any treafures, and to leave 
a place where is all his delight and happincfs, 
where is all his heart! Who can wonder at the 
dire blafphemies and horrid execrations which 
have proceeded from fome dying lips againft 
the God of heaven, when his fummons is 
fent to tear the trembling criminal from 
his darling mammon, to take him from 
all, not one favourite bag attending him, 
to hurry the wretch who hath made gold 
his only hope, his only God, to the im- 
partial and almighty Judge, who efteems all 
the riches of the earth as drofs ! Riches 
then become thorns indeed. 

3.; Nor are the pkafures and lujiings * af^ 


* St Mark makes no mention of pkafures^ but of 
ai isifi to, y^vna nt\.^iiy.\.ctv^ the luftings after other things, 
which it feems moft natural to fuppofe of the fame import 

. witH 

48 On the "PARABLE 

ter other things^ of the world, lefs entangling 
and deftrudive than its cares and riches : 
how wretched a ftate is that of theirs, who 
ieing pajl feeling have given them/elves over 
unto lajcivioujnefs to work all uncleannefs 
with greedinefs : who wallowing in the filth 
of fenfual lufts and appetites are preparing 
grievous thorns to wound their own fouls, 

with the %lQim ra /3nr, the plea fur es of this Vife^ mentioned 
by St. Luke — I have therefore fo underftood them. Whit- 
by fpeaks of them feparately, and explains the lujiings after 
other things^ by the Lufts of the eye, or our defires of gay 
apparel, rich furniture, ftately buildings, great attendance, 
and equipage : or fuch as by St. John are ftyled the pride 
of life^ defire of popular applaufe, of high eftimation in 
the world, or advancement to high pofts, or to great 
places above others : or laftly, our exceflive love unto our 
relatives, our parents, wives, children, or friends: for 
when thefe afFe6^ions prove temptations to fin, as the ex- 
cefs of them ftill doth, they will be then obftrucStive of 
that influence the word of life {hould have upon us : St. 
fohn informs us, that all thefe are not of the Father^ hut 
of the zvorld : That if we love or fet our hearts upon 
them, the love of the Father is not in us : and therefore 
Chrift requires us, to deny ourfelves in all thefe things, to 
hate, that is, to love them lefs than him, that we may 
be his dilciples. The dcftres after other things — if ex- 
preffive of any thing different or more than ♦j^o>«», may 
mean, irregular defires after any thing, which are not 
according to the will of God, which alone ought to be 
the one defire^ as it is the oyily happinefs of creatures. 
The <*»\75^o»o», lovers of pUafure more than lovers of Gcd^ 
th° better to be fl^icvvn the true eftima^e of what they fiyle 
diverfions, amufements^ &c. cannot do better than read 
carefully Mr. Law\ Chrijiian Perfe^lion^ and his little 
Treatife of Stage Entertainments^ 


of the S O W E R. 4CJ 

xvhile the word of God is wholly choked 
by them. — Nor let us deceive oarfelves or ima- 
gine that this is the cafe only with criminal 
pleafures, and the outward works of fin 5 it 
is equally fo with pleafures of every fort and 
kind, with all thofe amnjements and diverjions 
which are falfely filled innocent, when once 
they become immoderate and excefiive, and 
fo wholly engrofs the love and care of 
the heart as to exclude the one thing need- 
ful. This feems to be a matter not much at- 
tended to in the cafe of our diverjions and 
amufemmts^ which though perhaps they may 
not be abfohitely finful in themfelves, yet are 
they highly fo in their confequences ; as they 
tend to eftrange the heart from God, take 
off our affecTtions from and cool our defires 
for things abov^e; as they tend, manifeftly 
tend, to choke the divine word of God in 
the heart \ and will as aifuredly keep it from 
bringing forth fruit, as the cares and riches 
of this world: for they muft have far better 
hearts than any of the human fpecies who 
can perform their devotions in the church or at 
the Lord's table after a night fpent at a hall^ 
a gaming-table^ or a play-houfe, or when their 
hearts are bent on fuch pleafures as thefe the 
day enfuing. Thefe pleafures are thorns that 
choke the divine word: and let them who 
Vol. III. No. 2. E ufe 

50 0;^ /y&^ P A R A B L E 

ufe them, (if it can be pojjible for any ferious 
and Jincere feeker after the kingdom of God 
to ufe them) fay, if diftradled thoughts and 
roving fancies, cold affedions and heartlefs de- 
votions are not the fervices, — fhould I not ra- 
ther fay, the abominations they offer up to 

Thefe are the three deceitful things which 
render the word unfruitful, cares^ 7'icheSy plea^ 
fures, the three deceitful^ vaniihing, perifliing 
things, which have, as it were, noexiflence, 
which fpeedily will become to us, as if they 
had never been ; and which, if they poffefs 
our hearts, fo fure we may be, that the love 
of God is not there -, for infallible truth de- 
clares, If any man love the 'world, the love of the 
Father is not in him : for all that is in the worlds 
the lujl of the flejlj, and the lujl of the eyes, and 
the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of 
the world. And the world paffeth away and the 
lujl thereof, but he that doth the will oj God 
a hide th J or ever -f*. 

There is no doing this will of God, unlefs 
his word abide in us : there is no having his 
word, if the love of the world, its riches, cares 
and pleafitres abide in us : '' whatever incli- 
nation a man may have to piety and chriftian 
truths, the love of riches and worldly things, 

f I John ii. 1 6, 17. 


of the S OW "B. R. 51 

if it be predominant ruins all. — To rely upon 
riches, is to lie down upon a bed of thorns. — 
To feek for peace amidfl: the cares of the 
world, is to leek it in the very bofom of in- 
quietude itfelf — The word cannot bear fruit 
in a heart poflefled with the love of riches, 
and with a defign of railing a fortune in the 
world.'* — Therefore, dearly beloved, let me 
intreat you each one to coniider, whether 
thefe caufes of fpiritual unfruitful nefs any way 
afFedt you: whether through the cares^ the 
riches^ the pleafures of this life, the divine 
word of God is choked and rendered un- 
fruitful in your hearts ? — Oh confider how ter- 
rible the effed: will be if you remain unfruit- 
ful : and remember that the impediment 
here again is in yourfelves : if you remove 
thefe, the word of God will bring forth fruit 
abundantly : the proper means of promoting 
which fpiritual increafe will be beft fuggefted 
and feen by the cafe of thofe, who in the lafl 
place are defcribed by our Lord, as hearing 
with fo;?^ and gW hearts, and bringing forth 
fruit with patience. 

For \kiQ feed which fell upon the good ground^ 
SNt are told, are they^ who in an honefl and 
good hearty having heard the wordy receive^ un- 
derftandy and keep it^ and bring forth fruit with 
patience^ fome more, fome lefs, according to 

E 2 their 

52 On the PARABLE 

their feveral circumftances and eonditions ia 
life, fome thirty^ Jomejixtyy fome an hundred- 
Jold '^". 

The great and effential difference between 
thefe hearers and all the former is, that they 
bring forth fruit ; for by this it is that true 
chriftians are diilinguifhed from hypocrites, 
by: bringing forth the fruits of rigbtecufnefs: 
and herein is our Father glorified ^ that we bring 
forth much jruit '\, The leaves of a profef- 
iion will avail us nothing without the fruits 
of holinefs : not the hearers of the word only, 
but the doers of it are juflified before God : 
if we know thefe things, then and then only 
are we happy ^ if we do them J. The whole 
purpofe of feed fown is, that it may produce 
fruit : the hulbandman commits it not to the 

* Thefruitruhiefs of the feed that was Town on good 
ground (fays Mackmght) is not to be underftood of the 
fields producing a hundred times as much as was fown in 
it-; "but it is to be under ftood of a fingle feed, producing 
a hundred grains, which it might eafily du, where it met 
with a •'•ood foil, and wa^ properly nouri{l:ied. But there 
are m-my accidents by which the produce of a field fo rich 
as to be capable of nourifhinga hundred grains by one root, 
is reduced within ordinary bounds. — Seethe difi-erence of 
increafe in hearers largely expa,tiated upon in bifliop Be- 
wnW^^*o fermon on the fubject, vol. lo. page 281. This 
will be Ipoktii (>f more fully in the difcourfe on the parable 
of the ten talents. Sie Gen. xxvi. 12. 
^ t John XV. 8. X John xiii. 17. 


of the S O W E R. 53 

earth with nny other view: the end of the 
gofpel, be fure, is never anfwered, unlcfs it 
produce holinefs of heart and life. If you 
are unfruitful in good, and fruitful only in 
evil, you may profefs chriftianity and be called 
chriftians, but you diflionour the namc^ and 
are entitled to none of the privileges of that 
holy profeffion: for bo'W JJjail ive that are dead 
to fin^ continue any longer therein'^' ^ — And as 
this is the main difference, fo the defeats of 
the former hearers, and the obftacles to their 
fruitfulnefs are v^ell contraftcd by tlie oppo- 
fite virtues in the fruitful hearers — The firft 
heard^ but iinderjicod not, nor regarded : the 
2d underflood and regarded, but kept it not 
with patience, not enduring to the end : the 
3d heard and regarded and kept the word, 
but fuffered it to be choked, and fo brought 
forth no fruit. On the contrary, thefe fruit- 
ful hearers are defcribed, as both /'fr^r/zTg-, r^- 
ceiving^ and iinderjlanding^ and that with an 
honeft and good heart, 2dly, as not only hear- 
ing and underflanding, but keeping the word 
with patience, and 3dly, as not only keeping 
the word with patience, but bringing forth 
abundant fruit y nothing chokes the promifing 
crop: "they hear with joy, they retain with 
fidelity, they pradife with zeal." 

* Rom. VI. 2. 

E 3 They 

54 071 the PARABLE 

They hear with ^n HOl^ EST 2inA GOOD 
heai't : their intentions are right ; their pur- 
pofes lioneft : they do not, like the hearers 
by the way fide, come to church merely 
through form and profeffion ; but they come 
with holy refolutions and a duly-prepared 
heart : their defign is to worflbip the God of 
heaven, and to hear his word, fo as to receive 
it and gain inflrudion in righteoufnefs from 
it : what they hear they are refolved to prac- 
tife to the utmofl of their ability. And hav- 
ing this firft grand preparative, this hone/l and 
good heart, this iincere and pious intention, 
this fi?2g/e eye^ the certain introduction to a 
holy life, they do not go away afhamed: 
their whole body is made full of light * : for 
hearing thus the word of Gody with humble 
faith and Iincere define to be enlightened by 
it, they are fo enlightened ^ they under/iand 
it : God by his grace opens their underjland- 
ingSy that they may under jiand his fcriptures : 
and gives them to fee and know their inte- 
refl in them. Convinced that to them is this 
wordof falvationfenty they are taught to know 
what is the hope of his callings and what the 
riches of the glory of his inheritance amongf the 
faints : and what is the exceeding greatnefs of 

* Matt. vi. 22. 


^fthe SOWER. 55 

hh power to usward who believe^ according to 
the working of his mighty power *. A nd hav- 
ing their eyes and underftandings thus opened 
to difcern fpritual things, the word is rooted 
in them, they keep it, with patience perfe- 
vering in every trial : they give no place 
to the Devil, by letting evil thoughts reign 
in them 5 they give no place to v^orldly 
careSy riches^ or plcafures^ to deceive their 
fouls and choke the word : they ufe the 
things of this world as not abufing them, 
as the good creatures of God, given by 
a bountiful creator, and fandtified to their 
ufe by the word and prayer : their fears and 
anxieties are never immoderate ; their hearts 
never fixed on the good things of this life : 
and its pleafures, all its fleeting pleafures they 
defpife, as partakers of fuperior happinefs ; 
its finful pleafures they abhor as hell, and de.- 
teft as the grave : while having their eyes and 
hearts upon the glory that fhall be revealed, 
they cafl all their care upon him who careth 
for his fervants: and zealous in all good 
works, in love to God and loije to man, they 
go on in the pleafant paths of righteoufnefs, 
abounding in all the rich fruits of holinefs, 

* Eph. i. iS, 19. 

E 4 accept- 

56 On the PARABLE 

acceptable to God through ytfus Chrijl. Yet 
never counting themfelves to have apprehended^ 
thii one thing they do : j or getting thcfe things 
which arc behind^ and reaching Jorth unto thcfe 
ihi?:gs which are before : they prefs towards the 
mark, Jor the prize of the high-calling of God 
in Chrift Jefus *. 

Such are i\\^ fruitful hearers of the word : 
and as we have in them a pattern how we 
ought to bear and do : fo have all thofe who 
have heard the golpel and not done it, who 
liave heard and not brought forth fruit, hvely 
inflrudions how to corredt the evil, and 
abound in the works of holinefs for the fu- 
ture. Let fuch take care that they ufe them : 
and it requires conftant watchfulnefs and cir- 
cumfpeftion in us all not to let our '' hearts 
become an high-way, open to all the world, 
trampled by paflengers, covered with the 
duft of vanity, fouled by the dirt of pleafures, 
hardened by habitual fin, and expofed to de- 
vils." — This let us never forget, that nothing 
can denominate us true believers but the fruits 
of the Spirit : if we have not thofe fruits, it is in 
vain that we pretend to believe : our faith is pro- 
feflion, our dependance, rottennefs. And the 
fruits of the Spirit are lovefoy, peace ^ longfuffering , 
gentlenefs^ goodneji, faith ^ meeknefs^ temperance, 
* Phil. Hi. 14. 


oj the SOWER. 57 

If we have .not thefe, we have not the Spi- 
rit * ; and ij any man have not the Spirit of 
Chrift, he is none of his, fays St. Paul -f : and 
if we are not the property of our Lord yefu^ 
Chriji %, in which confifts all the happinefs 
of chriftians, w^e know to what mafter we 
muft belong. 

Have we, therefore, thefe friiifs of the Spi- 
rit ? are they manifefted in our lives ? Are we 
full of love^ joy, peace, long-fuffering, gentk- 
jiefs, gcodnefs.Jaith, meeknefs, temperance^ And 
if we have them not, let us afk ferioufly 
from which of the abovementioned caufes 
doth this want proceed ? It is not the fault 
of Chriji : he is ready to give to all that afk : 
he fliutteth not up the bowels of his tender 

* Gal- V. 22, 23. 

t Rom. vlii. 9. 

+ The anfwer to the firft Queftion in the Heidelherg 
Catechifm is very emphatical — i^. "What is thy only com- 
fort in life and in death ? Jrif. i hat both in body and foul 
whether I live or die,I am not mv own, but the property of 
my moft faithful Lord and Saviour Jt^fus Chriji — who mofl 
fully fatisfying for all my fins, by his moil precious blood 
hath delivered me wholly from the power of the devil : 
and'fo prefervcs me, that without the will of my heavenly 
Father, not a fmgle hair can fall from my head ; nay, 
moreover, all things fliall work together for my good. 
Wheref(^re he alfo gives me by his Spirit the certain hope 
of eve; lading life, and renders me fit and ready to dedicate 
my whole life to him. See Alting's ufeful explication of 
this Catechifm. 


58 On the P ARABLE 

ccmpafiion againft any fallen child of Adam^ 
againft any labouring and heavy-laden finner ; 
whofoever come to him he will IN NO WISE 
cajl out. It is not the fault of his gofpel; 
that is the power of God^ the powerful in- 
flrument ordained of God and efficacious thro' 
his grace, unto fahationy to every one^ not one 
excepted, to every individual ioxA^that believcth^ 
that accepteth the terms, and is v^illing to be 
faved by God's own appointed way. It muft 
therefore arife from ourfelves, as we have 
feen it really doth in confidering the prefent 

I ft, Proceedeth it then, let us afk, from 
inattention, want of due confideration, want 
of proper regard to the word of God read 
and preached ? — Behold, this is an impedi- 
ment we may eafily remove: Refolve, by 
the grace of God, to come to the hearing of 
the word with that honeft and good heart, 
that finglc eye and pure intention, which 
fhall never be fent empty away. In order to 
which, labour as much as may be to obtain 
a lively conviftion of fin ; this is the foil in 
which the word delights to grow, a broken 
and a contrite heart ^'i There is no fear of 
fruit, where that is found : He that now goetb 
on his way weepiiig^ and beareth his precious 

* Ifaiah Ivii. 15. Luke iv. 18. 


©/• /y&^ S O W E R. 59 

feed ivith him, fiall doubtlejs come again with 
joyy and bring his fjeaves with him. 

When forrow wounds the hreaft^ as ploughs 

the glebe, 
And hearts obdurate feel her foft'ningf:ow'rs^ 
Her feed celejlial then glad wifdom fows, 
Her golden harvejt triumphs in the foil. 

To gain this convidlon, ferious felf-examina- 
tion and the word of God, but efpecially the 
divine and fpiritual extent of the law are ex- 
cellent means: conftant and attentive hear- 
ing joined with fincere prayer, will never 
fail, fooner or later, to open the finner's eyes: 
wherefore, as was before obferved, come 
to the word with a fingle eye and a fincere 
intention: and above all avoid all levity and 
inattention in the courts of the awful majefty 
of heaven. Fail not continually to apply to 
God in earncft prayer for ftrength from above. 
When you come into the church, or take the 
bible in your hand; remember, that the one 
is the houfe, the other the word of God, and 
of confequence each demands the utmoft 
reverence of behaviour and fedatenefs of 
thought. When in the prefence of God, if 
vain and roving imaginations prefent them- 
felves, give no place to them> but fliake 


6o On the P A R x\ B L E 

them off, and apply to God, in fliort and 
fervent ejaculations, for the grace of recol- 
ledion and attention : and if any would draw 
you into converfation, during the fervice, or 
endeavour to deftroy the good effect of 
the word read and preaclied by objedling 
againft, ridiculing, or defpifing it, think of 
that farticuJar circumftance which the pa- 
rable fuggePts of the infernal fpirits, like 
hungry birds, fiying about you to take the 
good feed out of your hearts, left you foould 
HEAR and be faved. Treafure it up in your 
hearts and water it with prayer ; then doubt 
not but it will take root and fiourifli, and 
be found cffedual to the faving of your 
fouls. But do not think it enough merely 
to have heard it in the houfe of God, and 
then forget it, as foon as you are departed 
thence : This is defcribed as the fmful de- 
fe^ of thofe, who when they have heard ^i? 
fortl\ no more regarding the good word, 
but fuffering the things and thoughts of the 
world, its cares, riches, and pleafures to take 
place and choke it. Too many by a neglect 
of felf' examination after the fervice, bv idle 
converfation and many other the like means, 
lofe all advantage, as negleding all improve- 
ment of the word : for the hufbandman will 
tell you, tliat it is not enough juft to [oid 


cf the SOWER, 6i 

the feed, unlefs the harrow follow after, and 
iliut it up in the earth, that it may be pre- 
ferved from the birds, take root and bring 
forth fruit to perfection. — But if you will not 
take thefe neceflary pains, do not wonder that 
you remain ftill unfruitful : do not wonder 
that the word of God hath fo little effed: 
upon you: is fo much defpifed, is fo difguft- 
ing to you, nay and fo foon plucked out of 
your hearts J feeing the devil, whofe one An- 
gle view is to your foul's deftrudion, is ever 
ready at hand to take it away, left you fliould 
hear, believe, and efcape out of his net, as a 
bird cut of the fnare of the fowler *. No body 
would pity the farmer, who ihould ftarve for 
want of crops, when he had never plough'd 
his grounds, fowed the feed, harrowed and 
taken all due care to remove the thorns and 
thirties and noxious weeds. He would be 
judged by all, as juftly punilhed with po- 
verty and woe, for his extreme negligence 
and indolence. Let us take heed that we be 
not thus felf-condemned. 

2, That you may not be offended and fall 
away in times of trouble and trial, I have 
already fuggefted the proper motives : We 
have another added here, that the honeft 
hearers brought forth fruit ivith patience : re- 
* Pfal. cxxiv. 7. 


62 O/? Z/?'^ P A R A B L E 

ceiving perfecutions and troubles as the marks 
of fatherly love they are amended and puri- 
fied, not offended and utterly perverted by 
them. And one great reafon of this is, that 
hearing with an honeft and good heart, they 
tinder jland the word: whereas they who fall 
away, receive the word in a rocky heart, a 
heart that will not give it any entrance, it 
has no depth of earth, fo can take no root ; 
for which reafons here again fliould your 
prayers afcend before God, that he would 
take away the Jioriy from your hearts, and 
give you a heart of fiejh * : you fhould labour 
to under fl and the word of God, your lludy 
and meditation fhould be in it : and while 
having your fole dependance on the teaching 
of God's good Spirit, you fhould be careful 
to treafure up all the precious promifes, and 
to obferve all the duties, and all the privileges 
of the children of God. This would keep 
your faith unfkaken. 

3. But in the laft place, is your fruitful- 
nefs hindered by the cares^ the riches^ the 
fleafures of this world — do they choke the 
word and render it unfruitful — what mufl be 
done in fuch a cafe ? — done^ my brethren, any 
thing furely, fo be, we may but be delivered 
from this flate of danger, this gall of bitter- 
* Ezek. xxxvi. 26. 

nefs : 

of the S O W E R. 63 

nefs : any thing furely, rather than perifh 
eternally: any thmg furely, rather than lofe 
our immortal fouls, which worldly cares^ 
riches and pleafures will profit nothing in the 
day of trial ! — the hufbandman, when he finds 
his land overgrown with briars and thorns, 
cuts them up, cafts them forth, then breaks 
up the earth with his plough, and fows his 
feed, whence a plentifnl crop arifeth. — So 
muft we cut up, eradicate and caft forth thofe 
fpiritual thorns, if we mean to obtain God's 
grace. Worldly cares and anxieties muft be 
torn away from our hearts; we muft caft all 
our care upon God : we muft remember his 
univerfal and particular providence, that all 
things the moft minute, are under the direction 
of infinite wifdom : and learn from a know- 
ledge hereof to be careful for nothing *, un- 
eafily, anxioufly, diftruftfully careful, but 
in all things by prayer and fuppli cation make our 
requefts known unto God: and whatever may 
be our condition in life, whatever^ the event 
of our labours, we muft refign to his onuiipo^ 
tent wifdom and goodnefsy and be content in 
every ftate — and furely, it is no hard mat- 
ter for finful, frail duft and allies to refign 
to an all-powerful, all-wife and all-good Fa- 
ther I — neceflary it is, that we fulfil every du- 

* Phil. iv. 6w 

64 On //&6' P A R A B L E 

ty of our ftation -, a care to difcharge our fe- 
veral offices faitlifully is not only commend- 
able before men, but acceptable to God: but 
when we have done our utm.ft, and exerted 
cur honeft and beft endeavours, we muft then 
refign to the wife difpofals of providence, and 
perfed;ly and chearfully fubmit, without mur- 
muring and difcontent, to his good pleafure, 
all whofe ways are righteous, holy and true, 
and who, by means that we cannot fathom, 
caufeth all things to "work together jor good to 
them that fear him. Thus muft we cut off 
nil unreafonable irreligious cares. 

For Riches y wx muft take efpecial heed fo 
to ufe them, as not to abufe the bountiful 
nnd gracious giver of them : whatever he hath 
entrufted to our care, wx muft confider our- 
felves as flcwards thereof, as much accounta- 
ble to God for all we have received, as ftewards 
:ire to their earthly Lords. Now it is always 
required mjieicards, that they he found faithful. 
We muft femember, that the evil doth not 
confift in the pofieflion of riches, but in the 
earneft defre to have them, and in the 
wrong application of them : wherefore we 
muft take heed of all indireftnefs in the 
acquirement of them, we muft take heed 
that . we do not triijl in thefe uncertain 
riches, that they have not our hearts, that 


^/ ^^^ S O W E R. 65 

tJiey do not pin us down to this earth, and 
keep our afFedions from heaven : the great 
matter is to fit eafy to them, if we have them, 
and to be as wilHng to part with them when 
the mafter calleth, as though we had them 
not. Thus keeping them from enfnaring, 
engaging and poffeffing our hearts, we muft 
fee and apply them to their proper ufes, mak- 
ing our abundance a happy fupply to the 
wants of others, ufing them as inftruments 
and tokens of brotherly love in and for Chrifty 
that we may hear at that day, Inafmuch ai 
ye have done it, unto the leajl of thefe my bre- 
thren, ye have done it unto ME. Thus if we 
diveft our hearts from the love, and our handi 
from the defilement of earthly treafures, we 
may make ourfelves friends indeed of the 
mammon of unrighteoufnefs, which otherwife 
ufed will grievoufly enhance our future con- 
demnation. For even here they are not the 
great means of happinefs, a man's life con- 
fjleth not in the abundance of the things which 
he pojjejjetb : many having food and raiment, 
and being therewith content, are happier than 
thofe whofe palaces are adorned with cedai* 
and vermilion. In the day of death they 
avail us nothing, for naked come we into the 
world, and naked muft wq depart thence : 
in violent pains they are wholly ufelels ; all 
Vol. III. F the 

66 0;z /fo PARABLE 

the wealth of Lydia's King * cannot keep 
off the anguifh of the ftone, or the burn- 
ing of a fever : and in the day, the great 
and important day of trial, they are often 
found fo far from profitable, that they, and 
they alone, are the means of condemnation : 
— If therefore we would bring forth fruit 
to God, thus muft thefe thorns alfo be pluck- 
ed out of our hearts. 

And, 3dly, as to worldly pkafures they 
have fuch an immediate oppofition to the joy 
of the Spirit, and the peace pafling all under- 
ftanding, that I need only fay, are you kept 
from bringing forth fruit by thefe thorns ? 
— You muft pluck them up, you muft tear 
them away, though dear and pleafing as a 
right eye : for they that live in pleafure are 
dead mobile they live -f- : they have no fruit in 
thofe things, whereof the enjoyer is always 

* Nay that King himfelf proved the vanity of ahim- 
dance. Solon wifely told him, upon his enquiry, whom 
the fage thought the happicji ?nan^ doubtlefs expedting 
that he would name him, that no man could be pronounced 
happy before death. In remembrance of which when 
Crafiis experienced the viciflitudes of fortune, was taken 
prlfoner by Cyrus and ordered to be burned, he cried out 
iSo/cw, Solon^ bfc. Upon which Cyrus afking the reafon, 
and bein^T informed of Solons faying, in confideratioii 
of it, and his own mortality, he fpared the King of 
Lyd'ia^ and treated him with much refpc<ft, 

* Tim. V. 6. 


of the S O W E R. ' 67 

iajhamed * in the end : there is no joy in the 
recollection 5 the foul finds no comfort in re- 
fledling on a life fpent in a round of fenfual 
pleafures and carnal fatisfadions : in the end 
it is all a bubble; vanity of vanities: the 
glafs breaks, and the giddy meteors all pe- 
rifli. But it v^ould be v^ell if this were the 
whole: though they leave no fweetnefs, yet 
they leave much gall in the cup : bitter is 
the remembrance of a life (pent in finful 
gratifications and lufls, in the round of world- 
ly vanity, in the purfuit of that fhadow, 
caird earthly pleafure, to the negledl and 
contempt of the God, who hath given us all 
things richly to enjoy: bitter is this remem- 
brance to the departing foul, and bitter in- 
deed will be the remembrance hereof to the 
fuffering foul in the kingdom of mifery for 
ever ! Wherefore let us pluck up thefe thorns 
alfo : let us cafl away the ivorks of darkncfs and 
put upon us the vohole ariJioiir of light : let us 
walk hojiejily as i?2 the day, not in rioting and 
drunke?7nefsj not in chambering and wanton?tefs^ 
not in flrife and envying : but let us jmt on 
the Lord Jefui Cbri/l, aiid make no provifio/i 
for the flejjj to fulfil the lujls thereof %, 

Thus I have pone thro' this excellent Pa- 


rable : and I hope you have applied it to your- 

* Rom. vi. 21, X Rom. xiii. 12 — 14. 

F 2 felves 

68 On the PARABLE 

felves, as I have gone along: and then it XvHl 
prove a fountain of great happinefs to your 
fouls : if you hear and do^ as you have been 
advifed, there is no doubt, but you will be 
in the number of the fruitful hearers of the 
word : and v^e fhall have mutual caufe to 
rejoice, that the feed was not fown in vain. 
If you receive the cautions I have given, yen 
will then b€ happy in this world, fo ufing it 
as notabufmg it; careful and diligent without 
anxiety and diftradion : inflexible to fmful, 
and moderate in all pleafures and enjoyments: 
and as rich in good works, fo by your worlds 
ly riches laying up a good foundation in the 
world to come. But if thefe cares^ riches 
and pleafures ftill will overbalance, remember 
the word of God flandeth fure: it is of your- 
felves and from yourfelves that your future 
deftrudlion cometh. But I hope better things 
of you, and things that accompany falvation : 
you fee your duty: — you fee your danger: — 
the refl now remains with you: — 1 have 
done all I can in fincerity to convince, per- 
fuade, advife, awaken and admonifli you : It 
is not in the power of your Miiiifters to do 
more : Would God, it were ! for then not 
one of you fliould depart hence unperfuaded, 
unconvinced^ unadmonilhed ! But this is the 

of the S 6 W ¥^ K. 69 

gift of God, this is his work : and this de- 
pends upon your working with him, upon 
your joint endeavours ! and if really defu'ous 
to hear to the faving of your fouls, the bleffed 
Spirit will ftrengthen and affift your yet im- 
perfed: defires, and bring them to perfedion. 
— Yet a little while, and he that will come, 
fliall come, and will not tarry ! Oh who 
would not wiili to be prepared for the great, 
the terrible day of his coming! nothing but 
fruits of holinefs fpringing from a lively faith 
in your judge, will prepare you : if you 
have not thefe fruits, it is your own faults: 
he is ready to give his holy Spirit to them 
that afk him : if you are fenfible of your 
danger, defirous of his grace, and wiih to be 
faved, he will fulfil all your petitions, work 
with you in your earneft endeavours after fal- 
vation, and grant you all your heart's de- 
fire. But if you negled: his mercies, de- 
fpife his merits, contemn his word and grieve 
his Spirit — how fhall you be able to abide the 
dreadful day of his coming ?— May he im- 
prefs thefe things on the hearts of all : and 
grant that the Seed now fown, may have 
fuch a bleffed and abundant increafe, that 
we may none of us be found wanting ia 
the great day of account, but bring forth 

F 2 fome 

yo 0;^ //6^ P A R A B L E, &c. 

fome an hundred, fome fixty, fome thirty- 
{qXA: having our fruit unto holinejs and the 
end everlajling life, through Jefm Chrijl^ our 
only Lord and Saviour ! Amen, 

D I S« 


On the Parable of the Seed fpring- 
ing up of itfelf. 

Mark i\\ 26—29. 

yind be faidy fo is the Izingdom of heaveriy as 
if a man JJoould caji feed into the groimd^ and 
fhould Jleep and rife iiight and da)\ and the feed 
fhould fpring ajid grow upj he knoweth not howr^ 
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herfelfy 
firfl the blade ^ then the ear, after that the full 
Corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought 
forthy immediately he piitteth in the fickle^ be- 

caife the haveft is come^ 

¥^^^T^ H E evangelift St. Mark alone re- 
M W w ^^^^s ^'^^ prefent parable, which 
^ M he fubjoins to the parable of 

k.)K^^j«( the [ower wherein our Saviour 
unfolds to us the feveral hindrances to the 

F 4 fuc- 

72 On the ? A R A B L E 

fuccefs of the word preached^ as well as the 
increafe which it will always find : for tho' 
fome fell by the way- fide and was devoured 
by the fowls, though fome fell on flony places, 
where it had no depth of earth, and fo fpeedily 
withered away, though fome fell among 
thorns and was choked, yet other fell on good 
ground, and did yield fruit thatjpring upandir^ 
creafedy a.m^cii)iovTSi, mt cfJiaivovT^. — and brought 
forth fome thirty^ fome fxty^ fome an hundred^ 

It is of this fruitful jeedvAitxtoi he fpeaks 
in the prefent parable, wherein we are {hewn 
how it fprings up and increafs : in the parable 
of the fower we are only told in general, that 
the feed falling on good ground did yield 
fruit, fpringing up and increafing : in this pa- 
rable we are fliewn, how the feed fown pafTes 
through its different ftages, firft the i/adr^ 
then the ear, after that the f^/l corn in the 
ear. And as in the parable of the fower both 
miniliers ^indi people are inftruded in their du- 
ty, and informed of their defeds, fo here 
again an ufeful leffon is given to both : to 
minifiers, advifing them not to grow remifs or 
hikewarm in their duty, if they perceive not 
immediately fuch fruits arifing from their la- 
bours, as they might hope or expect : fince 
the word preached is like feed fown in the 


of the Seed fpringing up of itfelj^ 73 

field, which appears not immediately when 
fown, and grows up when appearing by im- 
perceptible degrees, at length fully con-* 
vincing the hufbandman that he hath not fown 
in vain : in this hope the preacher fhould ilre- 
nuoufly, humbly and diligently fow the feed 
of the divine word, and leave the reft to God, 
as allured that his labour 'will not be in va'm in 
the Lord : who will certainly reward his faith- 
ful minifters, not according to their fuccefs 
(which is only with the giver of all increafe) 
but according to their zealous and fincere en- 
deavours : in this hope therefore, in the morn^ 
ing they fhould yiw ihtiv feed a?jd ift the evening 
not with-hold their hand^ becaife they know not 
which may proffer : fome of it affuredly fhall : 
for as the rain corneth down and the fnow from 
heaven J and returneth not thither ^ but watereth 
the earthy and make th it to bring forth and bud-, 
fo fhall my word be that goeth out of my mouth ; 
itjhall not return to me void, but it /hall accom- 
pli fid that thing which Ipleafe, and it flmll prof-^ 
per in the thing whereto I fent it^ faith the 
Lord *. — And " although the feed fown doth 
not appear prefently, it may be not in our 
days, but feems rotten among the clods, yet 
may it appear afterwards by a plentiful in- 
creafe when our own heads are laid among 

* Itoh Iv. 10, 11, 


74 On the P ARABLE 

the clods : verifying that faying of our Sa- 
viour, one foweth and another reapeth "f-." So 
that it is wrong either for mini ft er or people 
to form their judgment of any particular 
preacher either from his prefent vifible fuc- 
cefs, or from his manifeft want of it, (which 
I the rather mention, as in this judging age 
many are apt to conclude too prematurely on 
this fubjedt:) fuccefs hath fometimes feemed 
to attend thofe who have proved very wicked 
inftruments, while it hath feemed to have 
been denied to thofe who were indifputa- 
bly the fervants and meffengers of God. 
Little fuccefs attended Chriji himfelf in his 
perfonal miniftry ; though that was the feed 
of the great fuccefs of his apojiles and minif- 
ters through all ages : little fuccefs attended 
Ifaiah^Jeremiah^ Sec, who were fent to a people 
that would not hear, nor underftand : while 
Cbrift tells us there will be fome at the day of 
judgment, whom he will rejecfl as <ivorkcrs of 
iniquity, though they have caft out devils in 
his name, and in his name done many mar- 
vellous works ^, 


-|- See Bur kit t on the place. John iv. 37. 

* Doddridge obferves very well, that it cannot be the 
defign of the prefent parable, to encourage private chrif^ 
tians to imagine that rtligion will flourifh in their fouls 
without proper cultivation : or to lead rninijiers to expe6l 
that it wiililourifh in their people, while they ncgledi: due 


of the Seed fpjinging up of it f elf, 7 j 

And as thus to minijiers, fo alfo to the 
people this parable holds forth an ufeful leflbn 
clearly informing them, that an empty pro- 
feffion of the gofpel unadorned with the fruits 
of holinefs, will be of no avail : for Chriji 
herein teacheth us, that his heavenly Father 
hath inftituted this fpiritual hufbandry, not to 
be content with the ploughing and fowing of 
his minifters only, but with a defign to put in 
his fickle, and to reap the ripe fruit into his 
garner. Unlefs, therefore, the profeffors of 
the gofpel pracftife good workSy through the 
obedience of faith, do the will, as well as hear 
the word of God, they will be guilty of hav- 
ing fuffered the moft precious feed of God 
to be deftroyed and corrupted in them. For 
the earth, which, fown with the good feed, 
and watered with the rain that cometh oft upon 
it, doth neverthelefs bear thorns and briars, is 

application. Our Lord meant, therefore, to intimate, that 
his apoftles and other minifters were not to eftimate their 
ufefulnefs, merely by their immediate and viGble fuccefs ; 
but might hope that by their preaching a feed would be 
left in the hearts of many which might afterwards produce 
happy fruit. On thefe principles I doubt not but our Lord^s 
preaching greatly promoted the fignal fuccefs of the apoflles 
(to which he might in part refer, Jehn iv. 38) and I hope 
the remark may fometimes be applicable to our labours,' 
efpecially with refpe(ft to thofe, who having enjoyed a re- 
ligious education, and being reftrained from grofTer irre- 
gularities, have not been fo far as others from the kingdom 
of God. 


je O;/ /& P A R A B L E 

r^je^edy fays St. Paul, and is nigh unto curjing 
whoje end is to be burned *\ 

Such are the general inftruflions which this 
parable holds forth lomiitijiers 2indi people: the 
main fcope of which feems directed to teach 
us, " the imperceptible increafe of the king- 
dom of grace in the heart, and the gradua 
but conftant growth of thefeed fown, to full 
maturity from the time it takes root.'* Many 
have fuppofed the parable ^referable to the 
cafe of the gofpel and its gradual increafe 
upon earth : as well as to the fecret and invi- 
fible influences of the Spirit, whereby it was to 
fpread, not by any human and violent means. 
The fathers, I think, for the moft part refer 
it to the beginning, progrefs, and perfedion 
of the gofpel. The man who fowed the good 
feed, fay they t, is our Lord Jefus Chriji, who 
iirft fowed it throughout Judea : the feed is 
the word of life 3 the earth is the heart of 

* Heb. vi. 8. 

a Hrong teftimony of the rea] divinity of Chriji — the ?nan 
I i that very God who was made man for m — STropov^t— -ra 

Oypavov &c. See Thcophyla^ in loc. The author of the 
Scholia upon Mark^ generally fuppofed to be St. Jerom^ 
has thefe words, ho?no japans fe?nen eji filius hominis \ fe- 
wen vcrbuju vita^ terra^ cor da hiimana : dormitat'w hcmints^ 
f/iars eJi fahatoris^ &c. See the ref}. St. Gregory. Lib. 22. 
of his morals^ chiip. xx. explains the parable in a moral 

man : 

of the Seed fpringing up of itfelf 77 

man : the fleeping of the man is the death 
of our Saviour : who h^iv'mg Jlept on the crofg, 
and afcended afterwards into heaven, feems to 
an unbelieving world to difregard as it were 
his feed fown, though it continues to grow 
up and increafe, men know not howy both by 
night and by day^ in profperity and adverfity : 
which it will ever do, till the lall great day 
fhall come, the whole harvefl: jQiall be ripe, 
and the Son of man fliall put in his fickle, 
and receive the righteous into everlafting ha- 
bitations. — Thus the excellent ^uefnelle ^, 
treading clofe in the fteps of the primitive 
writers, fpeaks on this pailage : " Chrijl him- 
felf caft the feed of the word, from which his 
church fprang up, and formed it himfelf, 
after a confpicuous manner, by the preaching 
and miracles of the apoftles, and by the blood 
of the martyrs of the firft ages. He feemed 
as it were to fieep in the following ages, while 

* Zegcr explains it in exacSlIy the fame manner — hac 
(Uminui parabola indicare voluit, quo paSio ecclefia Jlatus ^ 
inciperet & proceckret. Homo fiquidem Chrijius Dominui 
efty qui primum evangel! i fui femen per fe ac fuos dijfemina- 
vit in agros mentium humanarum : deinde in pajjione ac morte 
fua quaft no£lem qiiandam faciente obdormivlt: pojl hac 
ctiam tertio die ^ fomno mortis refurrexit. Interim femen 
ipfum excrevit, germinavit, germinare baud cefTat, idque 
die ac no<5le, hoc ejf^ perpetuoy vel in pj-ofperis par iter ac 
adverfiSy tametfi nonmmquam mortalibus extin^Hm ^ a Deo 
ijideatur di relidlum, 


73 On the PARABLE 

it continued to grow up infenfibly, during the 
night of adverfity, and the day of profperity* 
And as Jcfus Chrifi himfelf cafl: the feed into 
the ground, fo he will alfo himfelf reap the 
harveft at the general judgment. How fear- 
ful ought we to be left we ihould let the time 
of harveft come before that of our ripenefs, 
death before the converfion of our hearts, and 
judgment before the performance of good 
works !" 

But though the Parable may have this re- 
ference, it feems more plainly and naturally 
directed to teach us, the gradual growth of 
grace in the heart, and the imperceptible 
manner of the divine Spirit's proceeding in 
the renewal of a foul:" and in this fenfe 
feme of the primitive writers * as alfo the 
above-named author underftood it: " How 
adorable is thy condud:, oh my Saviour, fays 
he, in the eftablifhment of thy kingdom, 
and how admirable are the fecret operations 
of thy grace, in thofe fouls which thou 
formeft for heaven! Grace has its different 
ao;es and o-radual increafe: its 2:rowth is im- 
perceptible. When a Soul is once arrived 
at that meafurc of age and fulnefs, according 
to which Chriji is to be formed in it, then 
God withdraws it from the world." — In this 
ienfe of the Parable therefore the Soiveris not 

* Sec St. G?-'j7or_^ as quoted above. 


of the Seed fprmgwg up cf Iffelf. j(^ 
only Chrijl, but every minifter of his, who 
by his ordination and authority fows the feed 
of the word, (in which fenfe Chriji may in- 
deed himfelf be faid to fow all the feed, as 
it is by his authority only that his fervants 
fow it.) This feed fown by the miniflers 
of ChriJI, in the good and honeft heart, 
brings forth fruit with patience : and this 
fruit daily increafeth, though we know not 
how the word and the Spirit worketh that 
increafe: and then Chriji, the chief hufband- 
man, the Lord of the harveft, who fows the 
feed and is proprietor of the field, at the time 
of the harveft fends forth the angels, his 
reapers, and gathers this good feed, i. e. 
the fons of the kingdom reprefented by it 
into his celeftial manfions *." This I take 
to be the true meanino: of the Parable: in 
which we are fhewn, 

* Thus Dr. Wh'ithy. I fee no neceffity, adds he, of 
enquiring here (in this fenfe of the Parable) how Chriji 
may be faid to fleep and to rife day and night : Chriji 
being Uke to this hufbandman only in fowing and reaping 
of his feed ; nor can it be faid of him, his feed growi up 
he knows niit how : not yet would I depend much on that 
remark of the Fathers that here is a proof of man's free 
will and power, to do good of himfclf, the feed b(?'ing 
only fown, and no farther care taken taken of it: f<!)r as 
feed fown in the earth is only fruitful by being watered 
from heaven and ripened by the fun, fo a like influence 
of the word and fpirit upon the heart of man feems re- 
<^uifite to bring the feed fown in it to perfe6^ion. See the 
true ftate of the cafe. p. 90, and note. 


So On the ? AK AB L Hl 

Ift, Whence the feed hath this increafing 
nature, namely not from men, but God. 

Ildly, How God carries it on gradually to 
full maturity : And, 

Illdly, What is the confequence, when the 
fruit is brought forth or ripe. 

I will jufl in brief explain the Parable io 
reference to thefe three particulars, and con- 
clude with fome general marks, whereby 
our fpiritual growth may be difcerned, more 
efpecially for the comfort and eftablifhment 
of weak believers. 

Ift, Then wc are fliewn whence the feed 
hath this increafing nature : not from men, 
but God. For the kingdom of heaven, fays our 
Saviour, or the church in which God reigns 
gracioufly by his word and facraments, or 
rather the kingdom of grace in the heart, 
may, in one refpedl, be likened unto a man, 
ivbo caft feed into the ground : the man can 
confer nothing more to its growth, than what 
he hath done, by ploughing, dunging and 
duly preparing the foil, and afterward /owing 
the feed : and therefore he is faid tofleep a?7d 
rife night and day, to fleep by night and rife 


of the Seed fpringing up of itfelf. 8i 
by day, occupied as ufnal about his common 
affairs, having delivered his feed to the 
ground, and placing his hope of the future 
harveft in God, who without any further en- 
deavours of his bleffeth the earth, caufing 
his fun to fhine and his rain to defcend upon 
it, and bringing on the feed fown to maturity. 
Similar hereto is the cafe of a preacher of the 
word : he hath not the hearts of men in his 
hand to turn them which way he will, nor can 
he do any thing more, than as it were pre- 
pare and fow the feed in his hearers hearts, by 
teaching, admonifhing, perfuading, rebuking, 
exhorting them. After this he hath no more 
that he can do, but only to water the feed 
fown by his conftant prayers and longing of 
heart after it, which, fome fuppofe, is meant 
by the expreffion, fleephig andrifi?jg night and 
day, that is, having his thoughts continually 
intent upon it, his heart in the work,— ^\xt 
that the feed fhall take root, that thofe who 
hear fhall be enlightened, regenerated, renew- 
ed, and bring forth fruit, this is no more in the 
power of the minifter to effed, than it is in 
the power of the hufbandman to caufe his 
feed fown to grow : but in both cafes alike the 
bleffing proceeds alone from God. *' The 
Spirit of God is carrying on the bufinefs. 
Vol. III. G when 

82 On /& P A R A B L E 

when the preacher Jleeps ''^' and can do nobu-^ 
finefs, no way forward or promote the work, 
which God hath been pleafed to begin thro' 
his means: or when he ri/es^ to go about 
other bufinefs. The prophets do mt live for 
ever: but the word, which they preached, 
is doing its work when they are in their 
'graves : the dew by which the feed is brought 
up, tarrieib not for inan^ 7ior waiteth for the 
Jons of men J."— To fow the feed is all that 
man can doj to preach the word, is all the 
fpiritual feedfman can do, the bleffing is 
from God. This is fully exprelTed by St^ 
Faid^ I have plantedy Apolhs has watered, but 
it is God who giveth the increafe. So then 7iei^ 
ther is he that plajiteth^ any things ?ior he that 
"waterethy but God that givetb the increaje "f-.. 
But we fliould obferve, that tho* the works 
of the miniftry and the bleffing of God are 
diftincfl, yet they are not feparate, but joined 
together : The hulbandman mujl prepare the 
foil, and fow the feed, or God will never 
give the increafe: the minifter mull preach 
the word, be infant infcafon^ out of feafon^ or 
the holy Spirit will not make that word ef- 
fectual to the falvation of fouls. And we 

* See Job xxxiil. 15, 16. 

X See Henry on the place. Micah v. 7. 

t I Cor. iii. 6, 7. 


tjf the Seed fpringing up of itfelf. 83 
{liould learn from that/^/V/j and hope, where- 
with the hufbandman fows the feed, nothing 
doubting of a good crop from heaven, when 
he hath done his part, though many pinching 
frofts, and many nipping blafts may inter- 
vene : — from thence we (hould learn, to 
preach the word, in the like faith and hope^ 
to fow the divine feed nothing doubting, but 
the grace of God will accompany our fincere 
and zealous endeavours, and render it fruitful 
to the happinefs of thofe who hear, and the 
comfort of thofe who preach. In this view, 
and with this faith and hope^ we fhould not 
withhold our hand, but fcatter the good feed 
which increafes only by being difperfed ; re- 
membring always, that though the outward 
preaching in itfilf be nothing, weak and un- 
availing, yet it is abfolutely neceffary as one 
great mean, whereby the Holy Spirit works 
efficacioufly. Thus while Ananias lays his 
hands upon Pauh and fpeaks to him of Aat 
Jefus whom he had perfecuted, there fell as 
it were fcales from his eyes and he was en- 
lightened : while P^^// preached, the grace 
of God opened the heart of Lydia to attend 
to the things which were fpoken of him. 
Whilefflr//? talked with his difciples in the way 
to Emmaus, and opened the fcriptures, their 
hearts burnt within them. And fo continually 

G 2 the 

§4 On the P A R A B L E 

the inward grace hath accompanied the out- 
ward preaching of the word ; to fhew us 
the neceflity of our own endeavours, which 
though in themfelves unavailing, when fm- 
cere, will always be accompanied with the 
grace of God. Let us take care therefore 
never to feparatc thofe which God hath join- 
ed together, but to look for his Spirit^ by 
the preaching of his word, to expe6t his 
grace in the ufe of the means, and to pray 
earneftly for that grace, when the weaknefs 
of the means fo abundantly convinceth us 
that the power is of God * ! for what alas 
could this foolijhnefs of preachiiig -f-, (as St. 
Faul calls it) avail, how could it ferve to 
the awakening of the dead, the carnal, the 
worldly heart, if the almighty Spirit of 
God did work with it, and make it effectu- 
al to the falvation of Souls ! Oh then how 
much, how earneftly, fhould minillers and 

people pray, the one that this Spirit 

would ever-gracioufly condefcend to accom- 
pany their words: the other that this divine 
Spirit, would ever-gracioufly condefcend to 
open their hearts to a fruitful reception 
of the word preached : that thofe may not 

* See Mr. Ridley^ Sermons at Lady Mayer's Ictlure; 
Sermon VII. p. 269. 
f I Cor. i. 21. 


of the Seed fpingijig up of itfelj, gr 

labour, that thefe may not hear, in vain. — 
And it may be worth while to confider, 
whether the prefent fmall fuccefs of the gol- 
pel preached may not be greatly owing to a 
fad deficiency in this very important duty, — 
Send forth therefore, blefled Jcfus, fend forth 
thy convincing Spirit : open the hearts of 
all who hear: and caufe, by thine own al- 
mighty power, caufe thy divine word to find 
a glorious increafe amongft us! 

Thus we are fliewn whence the feed hath 
this increafing faculty : as 

Ildly, We fhall fee, how God carries it 
on gradually to full maturity. Chrift tells us 
that the feed fprings and grows up, li^v^'AVMY^Tui^ 
is lengthened out fucceflively by gradual in- 
creafe, the hufbandman kfwweth not how: 
though he hath fown it, it furpaffes all his 
fkill to tell how the work of vegetation is 
begun, carried on and perfected. For the 
earth bringeth forth fruit ofherfef by a cu- 
rious kind of mechanifm, which the wifeft 
cannot explain or comprehend, though not 
without the dew of heaven, and the light of 
the Sun ; which are abfolutely neceffary to 
vegetation ; and by means whereof the earth 
endued with a prolific, produd^ive power, 
bringeth forth by gradual and imperceptible 
G 3 degrees, 

86 On //j^ P A R A B L E 

degrees, fir ft, the green bladt\ then the milky 
fwelling ear, and after that the full ripe har- 
dened corn in the ear. And fuch is the gra- 
dual growth of grace in the heart, thus be- 
lievers fpring and grow up, they know not 
how till they come unto 2iperje5i man^ unto the 
meajure ofthejiature of the f nine fs ^Chrift. For 
when firft the word of Godiscaft into the heart, 
it frequently takes root therein, beyond hu- 
man underftanding, and excites new motions, 
difpeUing former prejudices, and inducing 
other confiderations, infomuch that men are 
carried forward in their fearch after heavenly 
things, even while they fuppofe no fuch mat- 
ter; and are ignorant of themfelves and their 
defires, whence they arife and whereto they 
tend. For the influences of the Spirit, 
Chriji tell us, are like thofe of the air or "wind: 
the air bloweth where it lifleth, and thou hear-- 
efl the found thereof, but canfl not tell, whence 
it cometh, nor whither it goeth: fo i^ evefy 
one that is born of the Spirit *. 

And when the heart hath thus received 
the feed of the word of God, the work is 
uot immediately pcrfeded: but there is firft 
a weaker knowledge and lefs enlightened un- 
derftanding of God, and the things concern- 

* John iii, 8. 

cf the Seed fpringing up of itfeJf. 87 
ing him 3 like the gree?i blade, infirm and 
lender, which is accompanied with weak graces, 
weak refolutions, and weak performances : but 
the feed is continually growing, tho' by imper- 
ceptible degrees, and therefore a more folid 
piety, and a more confirmed knowledge, 
ilronger graces and more lively works, like 
the fwelling ear, in their courfe fucceed : and 
iliew us that the word hath taken root in. 
our hearts: when at length patience having 
wrought experience, and experience hope, our 
faith is confirmed ftrong and triumphant, 
our hoHnefs univerfal and fettled, our love 
burning and perfed:, when being fully ripe 
we fhall foon receive the end of our faith, 
even the falvation of our fouls. For grace 
will have its perfed: work as well as nature, 
and though the beginning be but Jmall, the 
latter end will greatly increafe. God carries 
on his works infenfibly and without noife, 
but infuperably and without fail. — Where- 
fore we have need continually to pray, Lord^ 
increafe our faith, that the feed fown may 
grow more and more perpetually in our hearts, 
and we at length be ripened and made fit for 
the kingdom of heaven. 

Thus the work of grace is gradually and 
imperceptibly carried on in the heart -, and 

G 4 from 

88 On fbe P AR ABLE 

from hence we are fully taught, that as there 
are great degrees in fancflification, fo v/eak 
faith may yet be true faith : and if not de- 
prived of the influences of the divine light 
and Spirit, it will grow up and increafe to per- 
fedtion. As the feed fown firft putteth forth 
the green blade, fo the word received in the 
heart muft firft produce weak and infirm 
graces, not foil and indifputable aj/iirance'^ 
for as nature according to the maxim, nil fack 
ferfaltum, doth not work in a defultory man- 
ner, doth not bring forth perfect men at 
once, but proceeds gradually, from concep- 
tion to maturity : fo grace worketh in the 
fame gradual, regular, uniform method : and 
our ideas of that which is not feen, are to be 
taken from that which is. But though weak 
and infirm graces are firft produced, yet tho* 
we know not the way of the Spirit, they muft 
continue in a gradual increafe, of which in- 
creafe we cannot, we ought not to be in- 
fenfible, though we may be wholly ftran- 
gers to the particular manner of it. As thou 
know eft not the way cf the Spirit nl"in the 
wind or air which bloweth where it lijleth ^'\ 
nor how the bones do grow in the womb cf her 
that is with child: even fo thou knowejt not the 

* Compare John iii. 8. nnd confult this text in the 


of the Seed fprhigmg up of hf elf. 89 
WORK of God who will do the whole -f. This 
though great encouragement to weak believers, 
yet fhould advife them to take diligent heed 
that they continue not always v/eak, but that 
they grow in grace, daily increafing in the 
faith and in the knowledge and love of God : 
fuffering the feed to fpring and grow up in 
their hearts, by the fecret and infenfible in- 
fluence of the divine Spirit, continually fought 
for in and by all the outward means. 

Our Saviour faith, that the earth hringeth 
jorth fruit ofherfelf avrofiuTvi *, as aflfmoz^- 
ing machine ; and yet not fo, unlefs the huf- 
bandman prepare the foil and fow the feed, 
and unlefs the influences of heaven fliine gra- 
cioufly upon it. So the heart of man hath 
the fpring of motion within itfelf : he hath 
a natural power and will to work v/ith God, 
or to rejed: his grace: yet neither can this 
heart of man bring forth any fruit, but is 

i Eccl xi. 5. * Mark iv. 28. 

* The word Avtoyumt^^ fays the elegant Mr. Harvey^ 
is a fine expreffive word. Signifying, fays a Gr^^/f fcholiaft. 
Tag ^JjXava?, at ^^ar' at^raj in^ykaav — It feems tO give US thc 
true fenfe of that remarkable phrafe in the Moj'aic hiflory 
of the creation— rn:'^^^'? D^I^K K^l ll^N GenSx. 3. 
which God created and made ^ appears tautological and is by 
no means an exa61: tranflation. It {houid rather be inter- 
preted, which God created in order to make: to make by 
thefe prolific inflruments and reproducing principle a cou- 
^ tinual fucceiTion of animals, vegetables and creatures. — 
See Heron and Jlfpafto. Vol. 3. p. 12. See alfo phiio- 
fophical eflays by Dr. Waits, EfTay 9. 


90 On the V AK KB J^B 

by nature barren foil, unlefs the feed of the 
divine word be fown therein by the outward 
preaching of the gofpel, and unlefs God ac- 
company the word fpoken by his grace and fo 
give it increafe. It is man's work to prepare 
the foil, by ploughing, weeding, dunging, 
and other means ; and fo it fhould be our en- 
deavour to prepare the heart for the reception 
of the incorruptible feed, by due repentance 
and mortification, and by all means necef- 
fary to give the word admittance and growth. 
By this beautiful image we are fhewn 
very clearly the nature of man's will, of it- 
felf like' barren foil, as well as the neceffity 
of grace : at the fame time that we are taught 
that the grace of God by no means excludes 
all the effedis and endeavours of man, and that 
all the effeds and endeavours of man are un- 
available without the grace of God*. Without 


* This may be confirmed by a paiTage frcm a treatlfej 
called Anecejjary erudition for a chiijilan mariy compiled by 
archbilhop Cr^w//^r, and rhe reft of the committee oF di- 
vines : in the article o'i free-will. " The ftateand condi- 
tion of /r^^-w/7/ was otherwife in our firft parents before 
they had finned, than it was either in them or their pof- 
terity, after they had finned : for our firfl: parents Adam and 
Eve until they wounded and overihrew themfelves by fm, 
iiad fo in pofl'eilion the power of free-will by the mofl li- 
beral gift and grace of God their maker, that not only 
they might efchew all manner of fm, but alfo know God 
and love him, and fulfil all things appertaining to their 


of the Seed fpringhig up of it [elf. 91 
man's work and heaven's bleffing neither the 
ground will produce fruits, nor the heart pro- 
duce holinefs : but where the word is preach'd, 
the feed fown, where hearts are ready and in- 
clined to hear, and willing to ufe the due 
preparatives, for which preventing grace will 
never be denied them, and where minifters 
in ardent prayer commend their hearers to 
God, then from his own blefled promifes, from 
his own ordination and appointment, their la- 
bour ihall not be in vain : but in due time they 

fupreme felicity. For they were created in a ftate of 
rlghteoLifnefs, and after the image and fimilitude of God, 
having power of free-will to obey or difobey. So that by 
obedience they might live, and by difobedience they fhould 
worthily deferve to die. From this moft happy Irate our 
lirft parents falling by difobedience, moft grievoufly hurt 
themfelves and their pofterity; for befides many other evils 
that came by that tranfgreffion, the high power of man's 
reafon and freedom of will were wounded and corrupted; 
and all men thereby brought into fuch blindnefs and in- 
firmity, that they cannot efchew fm, except they be ///«- 
minatedy and made free by an efpecial grace, that is to 
fay, by a fupernatural help and working of the Holy Ghoft. 
Although there remains a certain freedom of will in thofe 
things which do pertain to the defires and works of this 
prefent life, yet to perform fpiritual and heavenly things, 
free-will of itfelf is infufficient. And therefore the power 
of man's free-will being thus wounded and decayed, hath 
need of a phyfician to heal it, and a help to repair it, that it 
may receive light and flrengtb, whereby it may fee and have 
power to do thofe godly and fpiritual things, which be- 
fore the fall of Ada?n it was able, and might have done." 


92 0?i the PARABLE. 

that have fown in tears fliall reap in joy, and 
prefent glad fruits before the God of their 
falvation: — and Oh that you might all be 
found amongft that good fruit, which when 
the harveft is come the great hufbandman 
will reap into his celeftial garner. — Which is 

Illd and laft thing whereof I propofed to 

When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he 
putteth in the fickle^ becauje the barveji is come. 
Chrift is the chief reaper : 1 looked and behold 
a white cloud, faith St. John, and upon the ckud^ 
me fat like the Son of man, having on his head a 
golden crown, and in his hand a Jharp fickle : and 
another angel came out of the temple crying with 
a loud voice to him that fat on the throne^ thrufi 
in thy fickle and reap, for the time is come for 
thee to reap -, for the harvejl of the earth is lipe *. 
Such will be the general judgment : of which 
we (hall hear more in the parable of the tares: 
in the mean time Chriji is preparing his fer- 
vants, and daily reaping the harveft of thofe 
who are ripe in grace : for when the work 
of God is brought to its due perfection, 
then the divine hufbandman fendeth forth 
his angels, his reapers, putteth in the fickle, 

* Rev. xiv. 14, 15. 


of the Seed Jpringhig up of itfelf 93 

and taketh away by death thofe who are ripe 
for his kingdom, becaufe the time of their 
harveft alfo is come, when they fliall reap the 
fruits of their labours, and reft with God in 
endlefs felicity. Happy they, who make fpeedy 
advances towards the kingdom of God, who 
grow up quickly to perfedion, zealous in the 
ways of God and in the means of grace, who 
are early found ripe for heaven, young in this 
world, but old in that wifdom which is from 
above — happy they, for quickly, (if their ftay 
on earth be not, by God's will, delayed fome- 
time for the greater manifeftation of his glory 
in the good of others) quickly fhall they be 
removed from all the troubles of mortality to 
the full enjoyment of the glory they have 
longed for, of the God they have continually 
panted after 1 — *^ but how terrible will this 
voice be, the harveft is come -f-, to thofe who 
fhall then be only in the blade^ or in an imper- 
fect ear! My God, vouchfafe to ripen thy fruit 
thyfelf, and render us worthy to be of that 
good grain which is to be offered up to thee 
as the fruit of eternity ! 

Such is the parable -, wherein we are fhewn 
whence the bleffing of increafecometh j how 
by gradual and imperceptible means the word 

t Mark iv. 29. 


94 On the V kK KB I. E. 

of grace grovveth up in the heart ; and whit 
is the happy confequence of ripenefs in grace, 
even a fpeedy removal to the land of ever- 
lafting life. I will juft in brief apply what 
hath been faid to the cafe and comfort of 
weak believers. 

When th^ feed is fown, it fprings and grows 
up, we know not how. We cannot know it: fo 
neither can we know in a fenfible way, the 
manner of the Spirit's operation. He works by 
injenfible degrees, and wx may chance fadly to 
miftake the workings of nature or of the evil 
fpirit for grace, if we pretend to a grofs and 
palpMefee/ing of the Spirit within us. And 
alas ! it is but too well known, and cannot be 
too much lamented, with how many abfur- 
dities enthufiafm has perplexed the church 
from this unfound principle J : againft which 
we cannot be too well guarded. — But though 
the manner is unknown, and no man can tell 
how the feed rotting in the earth fends forth 
a green blade, no more than how the Spirit 

X Many flrange enthufiafts In former age-^, and the qua- 
kers in our own, are ftrong proofs hereof. See Lejly^ 
fnake tnthe grafs^ particularly at the end. "^ThQ Majfalians 
or praying monks comprized the duties of a chriftian in 
praying and JIeepi7ig : and taught that you might know the 
precife time when the e^'il fpirit left any one by a vifible exit, 
•and feetheii/(7/y Ghoft enter in the form of fire that hurt 
not and might h'Av^ fcnftble evidence of his iUapfes. See 
Ridley's fermons, p. 165. 


of the Seed fpringtng up of itfelf. 9 r 

©f God makes the word preached produdive 
of repentance and faith, — yet when \ht green 
blade appears above the earth, we know cer- 
tainly that the feed is fruitful — and fo when 
repentance and faith are manifefted in the life 
and converfation, we know as certainly that 
the word hath profpered. *' After a field is 
fown with corn, how foon is the furface al- 
tered: how beautiful and pleafant doth it look 
when it is covered with verdant green ? fo 
let but the word of Chrili have the place 
it ought to have in a foul, and it will fhew 
itfelf as the wifdom from above doth, by a 
good converfation */' And tho* the manner 
of the increafe be utterly unknown, as being 
wholly beyond the reach of human under- 
ftanding, yet the increafe will fully and ma- 
nifeftly declare itfelf: by their fruits ye Jhalt 
know them. 

But there are fo fmall appearances hereof 
in me, may fome one reply, that I am afraid 
the word hath not taken root, — I find corrup- 
tions fo ilrong, evil thoughts fo prevalent, and 
graces fo weak, that I fear the work of God 
is not begun in my heart, or at leaft I can 
perceive no traces thereof. 

Remember, O believer, this very com- 

* Hsnry in loc. 


96 On f/je PAR ABLE 

plaint, and thefe very fears of thine, are a 
proof, that the good feed is not dead in thy 
heart: for unlefs the word of God had a- 
wakened and enlightened thee, how couldft 
thou have had any knowledge at all of the dark 
ftate of thy foul ? finners yet in the death, in 
the night of fin, never are heard to complain 
of the prevalence of lufts, and the weaknefs 
of graces. They tell you, that they have very 
good hearts indeed, that they for their parts 
are not fo wicked, as you profefs yourfelf, 
— nay, that they are fu// good enough, and 
with the Pharifee, tbank Gody becaufe they 
are not as other men are ! — now, had you 
rather be as thefe men are, fo totally infen- 
fible of fin, or groan as you do, under the 
fenfe and fad feeling of it ? I doubt not of 
the weakefl: believer's choice. 

But thefe fears you apprehend are crimi-* 
nal — inconfifl:ent with love, — difi:ruflful of 
God, and the like unreafonable fears, fears 
of God's veracity and power, furely are cri- 
minal : perfedi love doth indeed caft out all 
fuch, as well as all fervile, flavifii fear : but 
not the loviiig, filial, acceptable fear of of- 
fendin;^:: this is a gracious fear, and the 
more we have of it the better : nay doth not 
the great apoftle advife you to work out your 
c"iv?2 J'ahation with J ear and tremblings fure- 


of the SeedJpriJiging up of itfelf. 9^ 
ly not with the fear of a Have dreading gib* 
bets and gallies, but with the cautious holy 
fear of a dutiful fon, who, through love to 
the heft of fathers, fears to offend him, more 
than he fears death and hell: — ^' Moreover 
that yoM fear ^ to ufe the words of an able 
Writer^, is no argument of miftrufting God ; 
we have reafon to fear for ourfelves 5 nor will 
this fear be wholly taken from us, till we are 
removed out of this world : were there any 
reafon to think that fecurity as to our future 
condition was among the gifts of God's Spirit 
to the true children of Chrift, then indeed 
our fears would be matter of difturbance to 
us : but fince the beft muft fear and tremble, 
why fliould we difquiet ourfelves : fince not 
only our prefent condition requires it, but it 
is even part of our fecurity to fear and to la- 
bour with care and diligence, which is the 
bleffed fruit of holy fear. To fear your God 
will not perform his promifes to us, is a 
wicked fear : but to fear that we may fall fhort 
of thofe promifes is a reafonable fear, our 
prefent weakneffes confidered : and it is a 
fpur to virtue: and thofe who would defire 
this thorn in the flefh to be removed j may be 
anfwered in the Lord's name, as heanfwered 
St, Pauly my grace is fuficient for ycu. You 
* Bp. Sherlock^ Difcourfes, Vol. II. p. 82. 

Vol. IIL No. 3. H are 

98 On the PARABLE 

are weak but the Lord is ftrong, and his 
flrength is perfed:ed in weaknefs ; fo that if 
your fear be adive and bufy, and fets you to 
work, for the thing you are afraid to lofe, 
there is no doubt but that, through Chrift, 
you (hall be enabled to do all things." 

Thus an holy fear for our fouls is no evi- 
dence, you fee, of want of grace, but of the 
contrary : efpecially when it carries us out 
to endeavours after falvation. And let us en- 
quire whether you, who complain of your 
weaknefs and deadnefs, and your want of 
thcii full ejjiirance^ which fome tell you of; 
whether, though you are infcnlible of the 
Spirit's manner of 'workings yet cannot 
difcern, upon ferious examination, fome 
evident marks of his imrk upon your foul, 
which may ferve perhaps to give you the 
moft comfortable and infallible afTurance of 
all ? Do you not now perceive in yourfelf 
fome new and good defires and inclinations, 
fuch as you never experienced before : as a 
love and deiire to hear the word : afatisfadion 
and pleafure in converfmg with chriftians up- 
on fpiritual fubjeds : a diftafte of your for- 
mer companions in fin, a difrelifli of your 
former and profane converfation ? Thefe good 
defiles and inclinations are as it were the green 
blade ^ fpringing up from the feed of the word. 



of the Seedjpringwgupojiifdj^ 99 

Go on and you will foon find the fenfe of the 
evil of fin, and of the corruption of nature 
ftill deeper and deeper upon your hearts con- 
tinually : which will be attended with an 
earned longing after a thorough change of 
heart and life : a fure and infallible proof, 
that the word hath not been fown in vain : 
which word now will become moft fweet and 
defirable, and you will fay with Ddvtd^ I love 
thy commandments above gold ^ yea above much 
fine gold : thy word is fiveeter than honey to wv 
tafie^ yea fweeter than honey and the honey- 

But thus the feed is not come to perfedion : 
this love of the word mufl of necefHty be ac- 
companied with a love to Chrift, and a hatred 
to all fm ; where that is found, all felf-con- 
fidence is cafl away, and the foul as relying 
upon Chrifl, hopes for, feeks for, delires 
nothing out of him. Now it comes burdened 
and heavy laden ^ and is glad to take up his 
yoke^ and to walk in the way of his com- 
mandments. — And whoever readily yields uni- 
verfal obedience to Chrift, takes him not only 
as a Saviour^ but a Sovereign^ and becaufe he 
loves him keeps his commandments' — there 
can be no doubt, but the w^ord hath taken 
root in that heart, and when the fruit is fully 
ripe, the divine hufbaridman will put in the 
H 2 fickle, 

100 0« //&^ P A R A B L E 

fickle, becaufe the harveft is come. — Theft" 
and the like are clear and indifputable evi- 
dences, that the feed hath not been fown in 
vain ; and tho' corruptions, temptations, and 
trials, tho' oppofitions, reproaches and above 
all the treachery of our own hearts may lead 
us frequently to doubt of the work of God, 
yet let us examine ourfelves by fuch tefts as 
thefe, by our good defires, our hatred of fin, 
our love to Chrift, our obedience to his yoke 
—and wherever we find thefe, reft afliired 
that the work is of God, nothing doubting, 
in humble confidence, but that he who hath 
fo gracioufly begun it, will in his good time 
perfedl it in us. 

In order to which let us be careful to work 
with him, that he may alfo work with us -, 
remembring, that all increafe cometh from 
God alone, let us be much in prayer for the 
gift of his Spirit: but well informed, that 
this Spirit is not given without our own en- 
deavours, let us be careful and diligent in all 
the means of grace and ufe them with a full 
and entire dependence upon God. To quicken 
us in our diligent, faithful ufe of which, let us 
be ever mindful of that day, when the great 
hufbandman fliall put in his fickle -, that fo 
we may grow in grace and advance in holi- 
nefs , and be found ripe and fit for the ce- 


cf the Seedfpringing up of itlfelf. i o i 

'kftial manfions. — And as we learn from the 
prefent parable, that the kingdom of grace 
is gradual^ but conjlant in its increafe, tho' 
we know not the manner of the Spirit's ope- 
ration, let us be jealous over our own fouls, 
that we do not either ftand ftill in the ways 
of God, or much rather that wc do not go 
backward : plants^ tho' their increafe be not 
perceptible, are always increafing : and true 
grace in the heart can admit of no ftand : if 
it he not increafing, it is in a ftate of decay: 
and that it may increafe we muft omit no op- 
portunities to obtain the warmth of the di- 
vine iighty and the nouriftiment of the ce- 
kftial dew of God's Spirit : without either of 
which in grace, as well as without their great 
emblems in nature, light and watery neither 
the feed of the word nor the natural feed can 
fpring and grow up. We are bound to be 
greatly thankful, that we have fo plentiful 
means of enjoying both : we have great caufe 
to praife and magnify the riches of God's 
grace, for many nations have not the word 
at all, the precious feed is denied them : no 
wonder they are unfruitful : the fun ftiines 
not upon them, nor have they fuch fruitful 
fhowers, as we of this place and nation en- 
joy ! oh happy we, if we know how to prize 
our own privileges and happinefs ! But wo 
H 3 unto 

102 On the V A K KBh'E 

unto them, whether profefl'ors or others, 
who oft receive this feed and enjoy this fun 
and rain, yet bring forth nothing but 
thorns and briars * ! It will be more to- 
lerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day 
of judgement than for fuch ! God grant 
we may not be found in the fad number 
of thofe who are unfruitful under the plen- 
tiful Jow'ing of the divine word, under the 
bleffed means of divine grace : left haply we 
not only incur thepunifhments deftined for fuch 
hereafter, but become the wretched means of 
withdrav/ing this word of grace, of caufing 
the candkjtick to be removed from our 
church and nation — which our aggravated 
fins, hardnefs and backflidings do but too 
dreadfully forbode ! Alarmed by which may. 
we one and all follow St, Paul'^ advice, 
work out our own falvation with j ear andtremb- 
Img ', for if is God that worketh in us both to 
will and to do of his good pleafure—for we are 
not fiifjicient of ourfehes to do any thing as of 
awfehes^ but our fufficiency is of God, 

* I am indebted for this and other remarks \r\ the 
concluf^on of this fermon to Keach^ in his difcourfe on 
the prefent parable : an author in whom ipany excellent 
paffages are found, but one by no means to be recom- 
mended without great referve, on account of the many 
peculiar, not to fay dangerous dodrines, which he incul- 
cate s. 


of the Seed fprhjging up of itfelf, 103 

Now the God of peace, that brought again 
from the dead our Lord Jefus^ that great 
fliepherdof the fheep, thro' the blood of the 
everlafting covenant, make you perfed: in 
every good work, to do his will, working in 
you that which is well pleafing in his fight, 
thro' Jefus Chrift, to whom be glory for ever 
and ever. Amen, 


D I S 


On the PARABLE of the Tares, 

Being the Subftance of Two Sermons. 


Matt. xiii. 24. — 28. 

A720ther parable put he forth unto thcjn^ faying^ 
7he kingdom of heaven is likened unto a tnan^ 
which fowed good feed in his field: but while men 
fiepty his enemy carne and fowed tares among the 
wheats and went his way. But when the blade 
was fprung up and brought forth fruity then 
appeared the tares alfo. So the fervants of the 
houJJdoIders came and jaid unto him^ Sir^ did/i 
thou not fow good feed in thy field ? jrom whence 
then hath it tares ? He Jaid unto them^ an ene- 
my hath done this, — 

?^¥^)K"^ N the prefent parable, which St, 
^ J O Matthew only relates, w^e have an 
^ ^ anfwer to three important quef- 

h30M^^ tions, which have greatly per- 
plexed mankind, and upon which many vo- 

On //5^ P A R A B L E, &c. 105 
lumes have been written, as to be fatisfied in 
them is of great confequence to the caufe of 
religion and the eftablifliment of our faith. 
I. Whence evil hath arifen in the world in ge- 
neral, and the church in particular, II. Why 
it is permitted, and III. what the final event 
or iflue of it will be. In which queftions we 
are greatly interefted : for could we fuppofe, 
that God was the caufe of evil, that ht per- 
mitted it for its own fake, or could not pre- 
vent it, that he would neither avenge himfelf 
of it here or hereafter : there would be an 
end to all virtue and holinefs : our obligations 
to piety would ceafe : and there could be but 
one rule of conduft, the gratifying ourfelves 
and our appetites, as we thought good. But 
the cafe is far different : and our Saviour, as 
in various other parts of fcripture, fo in the 
prefent parable, fully and clearly informs us, 
that God is not the author of evil, that he 
doth not permit it for its own fake, and that 
there is a day coming, when he \yill judge 
the world in righteoufnefs, when he will ga- 
ther out of his kingdom all things that offend^ 
and them which do iniquity^ and cafi them into 
a furnace of fire ^ there Jhall be weeping and 
gfiafiing of teeth. On which day the ex- 
cellency of the righteous man's choice (hall 
be glorioufly difplayed : for then^ fays our 


lo6 0?i the PARABLE 

Saviour, on that day, when the wicked iTiall 
thus go into everlafting mifery, then Jlddl the 
righteous Jhine forth m the Jm in the ki?7gclom 
ef their Father I He that hath ears to hcar^ let 
him hear'\, 

I propofe to confider the parable in this 
view, as it gives a fatisfadlory anfwer to thefe 
queftions ! i. Whence evil arofe in the world 
in general and in the church in particular ? 2. 
Why it is permitted by God, and 3. what the 
iffue or event of it will be? — with a refolution 
of which important queftions, I will not fail 
to connedl fuch remarks, as may tend to in- 
fpire us with a hatred to evil and the father 
of it ; the better to effedl which I will con- 
clude with a brief defcription of that glorious 
city the. new yerufalem, into which We can 
never enter, if we permit fin and evil to reign 
in our hearts j for all things, that offend and 
they which do iniquity ihall hQ gathered out from 
thence, and there flmll in no wife enter into it 
any thing that defilethy neither ^ivhatfoever lijork- 
eth abomination, or maketh a lye ; but they which 
are written in the Lamb's book of life"^. 

This parable of the Tares, like that of the 
Sower, being fully explained by our Saviour 
himfelf, hath no difHculties in it : it differs 
from that as alfo from the parable of the feed 

t Matt. xlii. 4!. * Rev. xxl. 27, 


of the TARE S. 107 

fpringing up oj itfelf, in this refped:, that in 
them the good feed is taken fimply and by it- 
felf for the word of God : but in this accord- 
ing to our Lord's own expoiition, the good 
feed are the children of the kingdom, who ' are 
regenerated by that word of God, as by in^ 
corruptible feed^: and as our Saviour, by the 
firft parable, removed a ftumbling block, 
which offends many, when they fee fo fmall 
fruits arifing, from the word of God, and 
numbers of hearers neither the wifer nor bet- 
ter for it, and thus excites every hearer to 
take diligent heed how they hear : fo by this 
parable he takes away an offence, which a- 
gain diflurbs the minds of many, when they 

* Theophyla^ upon this parable fpeaks thus, Zv t>j Trfort^oc 
wafa^oA»5 bfc. in the former parable (that of the fower) he faid, 
that a fourth part of the feed fell' upon good ground : but in 
the prefent he fhews, that not even this feed, which fell 
upon good ground, is fufFered to be incorrupt by the ene- 
my, while we fleep, and are idle. The field is the world 
or the foul of every individual: C/>r//^ is the fower. The 
good feed is good men or good thoughts : the tares are 
herefies or evil thoughts : the fower of thefe is the devil. 
But men fleep, when thro' fupinenefs and negligence they 
give place to heretics or evil thoughts. The fervants are 
the angels, who are grieved at herefies in the church, or 
miquity in the mind: and are defirous to pluck up and 
cut ofF from this life heretics and the devifers of evil 
things. But God permits not heretics to be deftroy'd by 
wars, left the righteous fhould fufFer and bedeftroy'd to- 
gether with them, &c. See the author. 


io8 On the PARABLE 

perceive in the church fuch a mixture of evil 
with good : of tares with the good corn : and 
hereby would flir up the teachers of the word, 
particularly, to be careful, left, thro' their 
negligence and fupinenefs, thetreafure of life 
perifh in the hearts of fome who thus may 
be changed from good feed into vile and 
ufelefs dar?7,eL In that parable therefore, ac- 
cording to *?/. Chryfoftom, he reproved the hy- 
pccrify of the hearers of the word : in this 
he animadverts upon the councils and de- 
vices of heretics, (lie wing us whence they 
arife in the church, no kfs than evil in the 
world, and what the final iffue of each will be. 
It may be proper juft to obferve, that 
the word tares in our tranflation doth not 
fcem to exprefs the meaning of the original 
word ?<?«v/a — for tares * with us are not 
noxious weeds, but a ferviceable kind of 

* Indeed was I to fellow Mr, Johnfonin his diel:!onary, 
or was that to be allowed a ftandard of the EngUJJj lan- 
guage, then tares might be admitted as a proper word : 
for ^tares^ fays he, (from Teeren^ Dutch^ to confume) is a 
weed that grows among corn. The original word 
ti^oivhXy very able Grecians tell us, is not found except 
in the Evangelifts and fome of the Fathers, and they give 
different derivations. Suidas fays, that l!^i}^uno)t is »? iv ru 
2iT<j a»pa — guaji (p&uifx. And fo he correfponds with Mr. 
ychnfon. But the word is moft probably of Eajlern ori- 
gin, from the C/Wi^<? pi cihavit — as Mart'inus obferves 
in his Lexicon, whom confult. 


of the TARE S.. 109 

pulfe, of great ufe for cattle : and very eafily 
diftinguifhed in their growth from wheat ; 
whereas the original expreffes fomewhat, and 
the fcope of the parable demands it, which is 
of no fervice at all, fit only to be burned and 
which cannot eafily be diftinguifhed, from 
the good corn, till both are grown up : and 
to thefe particulars anfwer either what are 
called the deaf ears in the wheat, which can- 
not be difcerned till the time of harveft, and 
then are found to be utterly ufelefs, or rather 
a weed called darnel the infelix loliuniy which 
grows up with wheat ; and unlefs gathered 
out of it, before it be reaped, is very preju- 
dicial to the corn. To avoid confufion how- 
ever I have chofen rather to retain our word 
tares in this difcourfe, as grown familiar thro' 
long ufe : and any miftakes concerning its 
true import are thus obviated. 

I come now to fpeak of the firfl queftion 
namely, whence evil arofe in the world in 
general, and in the church in particular? Con- 
cerning which we are informed in the firft 
part of the parable. 

The kingdom of heaven^ fays our Saviour, is 

likened unto a man which fowed good feed in his 

field. But while men Jlept, his enemy came a?id 

fowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 

But when the blade wasfprung up^ and brought 


no On the PARABLE 

forth fruit, then appeared the tares alfo. So 
the fervants of the hou/Ijolder came, and /aid 
unto him. Sir, didji not thou fow good feed in 
thy field, jrom whence then hath it tares ? He 
f aid unto them an ElslEMT'Ey.Q^O'E ANGPQnOE 
hath dofie this. In the fubfequent verfes he 
gives the following expofition, He that fow- 
eth the good feed is the fon of man : the field is 
the world : the good feed are the children of 
the kingdom, but the tares are the children of 
the wicked one, The ENEMT that [owed them 
is the DEVIL. 

In which words, we are clearly taught, 
whence all that evil arofe in the field of the 
world, the exijftence of which is but too evi- 
dent, and hath never been denied, as how 
indeed could it — ? in any age or time. The 
only difpute or doubt hath been, whence this 
evil, fo confefledly predominant, both in men 
and things, hath derived its fatal origin ? 
And while men have attempted to folve the 
difficulty and untye the gordian knot by the 
mere force of unenlightened reafon, they have 
run into abfurdities and extravagancies, wild and ' 
perplexing, inftead of unravelling, have only 
entangled the more, and loft themfelves in a 
labyrinth of error, while they either wanted 
or were too wife to ufe the only clue that could 
direcft them aright, the wc^r^ of God. Hence 


of the i: A. K 'E S. Ill 

the wild herefies oi Simon Magus.hQncc the pro- 
fane and ridiculous folution which Manes * 
gave of this matter, who fuppofed two felf- 
exiftent powers or gods, one the author of 
all good, the other the author of all evil : 
hence the romantic notions of Or/^^« concern- 
ing the pre-exiftence of fouls in a former 
ftate ; and hence may we fay, the dangerous 
and blafphemous pofitions of fome, who make 
God the author of all evil by fuppofing it 
eternally predejlinated and decreed by him4* ! 
The notions of the two former were evident- 
ly derived from \k\^ pagan fchools : and whe- 

* See King's origin of evil, vol. i. p, 102, &c. — As 
alfo his incomparable fermon concerning the divine pre- 
fciencj, at the end of his 2d vol. See alfo Ridley's ^xh 
and 6th fermon at Lady Moyer's le6lure. 

f ChemnitZy whom the favourers of thefe tenets 
would fuppofe on their fide, produces a pafiage or tv/o 
from Calvin and Beza^ on that fubje6t, pretty remark-, 
able. '' Flow far from this herefy (of the Cainites) 
Calvin is removed, the pious reader will difcern from thefe 
words of his de occidt, provid. Fatcor lapfutn Ad^e for- 
tuiium fuijfe^ fed occulto Dei decreto ordinatum ! I confefs 
that the fall of Jdam was not fortuitous, but ordainedhy 
the hidden decree oi God ! And Beza, in Aph. i.Lib. i. 
Sine Dei decreto nihil fit ufpiam a quoqua?n neqiie univerfali- 
ter neque fpecialiterj ne iis quidern exceptis^ qucs 7nala fiint 
ac proinde detefianda. And again. Cap. 3. Ap. \, Faten- 
dum eji iapfum Adcs nan contigiffe fortuito^ vet nuda ^ otiofa 
permijfione aliqua^ qua ab ipfius voluntaie & decreto fepa-- 
returl — Thus thefe men in plain and exprefs terms are 
not afraid to make God's decree the origin of all evil — 
fo he, not the devil^ according to them, fowed tares ! 


112 On the P ARABLE 

ther that of the latter may not be a monftrous 
birth from the Manichcean herefies, it would 
be no difficult matter to trace : as a key to 
which, we (hall do well to confider, that G?/- 
vin, Beza and other firft teachers of uncon- 
ditional eledtion and reprobation derived all 
their dodrines from St. Auftifjy who was 
many years, as he fadly deplores, loft in the 
grofs errors of the Manichees 5 -f- and who af- 
terwards both in his difputes with them and 
the Pelagians dropt many unwarrantable ex- 
preffions: which tho' he retraced and for 
which he repented ; others lefs wife, and lefs 
ingenuous, have made the foundation of 
dodtrines far more rigid, unreafonable and un-^ 
fcriptural : and of confequence falfe : for in 
this cafe the 7^r//»/^rf and the /cnpture only 
can give us certain information. — And from 
thence we have what we defire : the prefent 
parable, delivered by the mouth of infinite 
wifdom, clearly fatisfies us in this point ; 
wherein we fhall do well to inform ourfelves, 
and in our enquiries after which we are jufti- 
fied by the folllcitude of the fervants, who 
perceiving tares mixed with the good corn, 
in their mafters field— came full of fuch 
anxiety, as well diftinguifhcth careful fervants, 
and faid unto him, Sir, did/t thou not fow good 
feed in thy field? From whence then hath it 

* See Aujiins confeffions, b. 3, c. 6. &c; 

tares ? 

of the TARES. 113 

tarei ? And as the 77jajier fatisfied them con- 
cerning the author of this mifchief: fo our 
great mafter and teacher fully fatisfies his fin- 
cerely anxious and carefully enquiring fer- 
vants, concerning the author and fource of 
all evil, in the expolition which we heard 
from him of this particular in the parable — 
the enemy that [owed the?n is the Devil: the 
father of lies, the grand accufer, adverfary 
and enemy of God and man : who from the 
beginning hath proudly oppofed himfelf to 
God, and laboured to corrupt and deftroy 
the good feed fown by him in his field of the 
world in general, and the church in par- 

God fowed good feed only in his field : he 
pronounced all that he created VERTGOOD : 
he formed man in his own image, endued 
with righteoufnefs and true holinefs : and as ic 
was neceflary to make him capable of rewards 
or punifhments gave him a free will to 
chufe or refufe, and fet life or death before 
him, as the confequence of his eledtion. Spee- 
dily the ENEMY, properly and emphatically 
fo called, came and fowed tares : he poured 
his vile infinuations into the ear of too cre- 
dulous Eve-, and while, with fubtle artifice, 
he introduced deftrudive pride, by means of 
ferpentine infidelity ^ into the hearts of our firft 

Vol. III. I parents. 

114 On the PARABLE 

parents, it became no difficult tafk for him to 
recommend daring difobedience to their efteem 
and friendfliip. Thefe rank tares, this vile 
and deftrudive darnel he fowed amongft th& 
good feed : and made him who was created 
righteous, a finner ^ true, a liar ; innocent, 
guilty ; holy, accurfed ^ humble, proud ; hap- 
py, miferable ; made him, who was created 
the angelic and bleffed inhabitant of paradife, 
and heir of immortality, a poor corrupted 
worm, fubjedl to mifery, mortality and wrath. 

And as thus at firft he fowed tares among 
the wheat, fo have they continually grown up 
too-ether ; and at all times when God hath 
been pleafed as it were to fow his field afrefli, 
the enemy hath been ready at hand to fow 
t>ares alfo : when God gave the good feed of 
the law from mount Sinai^ fatan was ready 
w^ith his tares : the murmuring people, the 
idolatrous calf, the fehismatical Corah and 
his company, and the like were the evil in- 
liruments employed by him to corrupt the 
precious feed of God. 

And when Ckrift came to fow the good feed 
of the gofi^el in the world, to teach men 
the moft pure and holy dodrin-es, and to fliew 
the only way to falvation, how bufy was this 
memy of the feed of the woman fpeedily to fow 
tares, fpeedily to raife up corrupters of this 


of the T A H E S, ii^ 

focft pure dodrine : and to intermix it With 
the moft dangerous and damnable herefies^ 
even as he hath continued to do to the pre- 
fent day, and will not ceafe, till the day of 
the great harveft? For the myftery of iniquity 
doth already worky fays St, Pau!^ only he who 
now letteth will let j until he be taken out of the 
way^ and then Jhall the wicked be revealed^ whom 
the Lord Jhall confume with the fpirit , of his 
mouth, and fiall dejiroy with the brightnefs of 
his coming^. And to this cafe of the chriftian 
church, the parable feems moft properly and 
peculiarly addreft : in which by himfelf and 
his apoftles, whom he commanded to preach 
the word unto every creature ^ Chri/i^ as in 
the field of the world, fowed the good feed 
of his moft pure and holy gofpel, which is 
the power of God unto falvation, and which 
received in^ faith makes men the children of 
the kingdom : for in this gofpel the righteoif- 
nefs oj God by faith is i^evealed -, and we are all 
the children of God by faith :— -This pure word 
and this precious gofpel was foon corrupted, 
and that our Saviour aiTures us by the enmity 
of the devil: he came and fowed tares -, which 
iprung up and appeared amongft the good 
Corn even in the days of Chrift and his 
apoftles. The Lord himfelf had amongft his 
Own difciples and familiar friends a JuJas^ a 
^' ?. Their, ii. 7, 8, 

I Z devil. 

ii6 0?i the PARABLE 

devil, a traitor, Amongft the feven firfl 
deacons of the church, was a Nicolas, the 
author of that vile fed: of the Nicolaitans^ 
which in the revelation*, Chrifl tells us, he 
hates, A ^imon Magus joined himfelfto the 
apoftles, whofe heart "was not right before 
God, who was in the gall of bit t erne fs and the 
bond of iniquity -^i and the author of infinite 
evil to the church. Soon after arofe the he- 
refies of £<^/o;/, Cerinthus, and other rank and 
profeft oppofers of the divinity of Chriji — 
as on the contrary fome there were who de- 
»ied his humanity. The Pharifees, who be- 
lieved, and confounded the works of the law 
and of faith, caufed various troubles, as did 
thofe who corrupted the dodrine of free 
grace, and made it a handle for fin — who 
faid, let us continue infm, that grace may abound y, 
againfl: each of which St. Faid ftrongly op- 
pofed himfelf in his excellent epiftles to the 
Romans and Galatians, And there were not 
wanting many falfe brethren and hypocrites, 
who having a fhew of godlinefs, without 
the power of it, were the unhappy occafions 
of much fcandal and offence. Of fuch St. 
Fetcr fpeaks, but there were falfe prophets 
alfo among the people, even as there fhall be falfe 
teachers among you^ who privily fkall bring 

* Rev. ii. 15 t A6ts Vjii. 23. 


(^ the TARES. .117 

in damnable herefics^ even DENTING the 
Lord that bought them^ and bring upon them- 
Jehes fwijt de/irudlion ; and many jhall follow 
their pernicious ways ^' by reafon of whom the 
way of truth fiall be evil fpoken of-f. — Of this 
fort were the deceived and impious followers 
of AriuSy and others, who denying the true 
divinity of Chri/t, the Lord that bought them 
with his own mofl precious blood, brought 
fuch evils on the church as deluged it in 
blood : and continue to this day to work the 
downfal of many who follow their perni- 
cious ways: for a denial of the divinity of 
Chrifi^ is a denial of the whole merit of his 
fatisfaBion, fo of the whole gofpel falvation, 
and of neceffity the moft fatal herefy the 
church ever knev/*. — How many tares have 
lince been fown by the papal as well as ma'- 
hometan anti-chrifl, we all but too well know : 
and how many in this day are fown by arians, 
focinians^ deifis, and the profeffors of natural 
religion a mere phantom, a vile tare, — how 

-f- 2 Pet. ii. I. 

* For the fuUeft proof hereof, I refer my reader with 
great fatisfa(Slion to that incomparable treatife of Dr. 
Waterland'^-, the Importance of the fcipture do^frine of the 
trinity — a book of fuch found learning, knowledge and 
piety as merits every chriftian's perufal, and it is only to 
be lamented that it is not, in this day efpecially, in the 
hands of every perfon, baptized in the name of the Fa- 
ther, Son and Holy-Ghoft. 

I 3 much 

'|i8 On the PARABLE 

much evil, I fay, are done by thefe, no m^n 
can tell : but to thefe we may with truth at- 
tribute the fad ftate of chriflianity, the la- 
mentable and univerfally confefled * growth 
pf infidelity^ and of confequence immorality, 
Jn this church and nation. 

Thefe are fpme of the tm^es^ for the time 
would fail me to fpeak of all, which from the 
beginning the enemy hath fowed among the 
3i^heat; and they have grovvn up together. 
Indeed we could have no reafon to fuppofe, 
ihat if fuch and fo many corruptions abounded 
in the church even in the firft and pureft days 
pf it, future ages fliould abound with lefs : 
and therefore if you will give yourfelves the 
trouble to look thro' the ecclefiaftical hiftorv, 
you will find, that this hath alv/ays been the 
cafe : there hath always been this intermix-^ 
ture of tares with the good corn : thefe here- 
Jies^ hKe doolri?2es, and fdlk practices (be furq 
confeqiiences of falfe dodrines) have thro* 
the enmity of fatan always prevailed, and ia 
the wifdom of God always been permitted, 

* For 3 proof of this we may appeal to two fcrmons 
lately preached before the univerfity of Oxford, by the 
Rev. Mr. Hall and the Rev. Mr. Grifith—m each of 
which the learned authors much and very juftly com- 
plain of the faid growth of infidelity. See particularly 
p. 24. of Mr. Grtffth\ difcourfe. p 23. of Mr. //^//\< 


of the TARE S. 119 

for which hereafter we (hall endeavour to 
affign fome probable reafons. 

But the knowledge of this, as well as of 
the original of thefe evils, which our Saviour 
clearly informs us have the devil for their 
father and author — {the enemy that Jowedthem 
is the devil) (hould fatisfy us as to all doubts 
with regard to the church, and caufe us never 
to fall in with the opinions and perfuafions of 
any of thofe, who therefore would feparate 
from it, becaufe there are found corrupt /r^- 
fe£ors in it, corrupt in principles and praBice. 
— This would have been as good a reafon for 
feparating from Chrifl and his apoftles, and 
the primitive church in the very firft ages, as 
from any other : for corruptors and corrup- 
tions have been in the church more or lefs 
from all ages: and if that church by her 
creeds, articles, canons, S^r. difclaims ail fuch 
principles and practices, the rottennefs of thofe 
members is no argument for a feparation. 
This, we perceive, hath been the cafe more 
or lefs : and a chuixh wholly incorrupt, whol- 
ly free from tares, we fliall never fee, till the 
day of the great harveft, when all things that 
offend, fliall be gathered out of it. In the 
mean time our great care fliould be to fee 
thefe errors reform d to the utmoft of our 
power, in whatever ftate of life we are placed: 
• ' I 4 '^^ 

120 On the PARABLE 

if in a public ftate, our care and eye (hould be 
to public reformation ^ if only in a private, 
to the reformation of ourfelves and thofe with- 
in our fphere ; but in every ftate, we fhould 
take efpecial heed to ourfelves, that we be 
found amongft the good feed and not amongft 
the tares : fruits are the things that God re- 
quires : and as there zvq tares as well 2i^ wheat 
in the church, let us be jealous over ourfelves, 
that we become not by a bare profeffion, and 
a communion only with the external church, 
bafe tares and v/retched darnel, fit only to te 
burned : let the offences which w^e fee in 
others, whether in doSirme or pra&ice^ ftir us 
up to more and more zeal in the caufe of 
God and in the ways of truth : let us be care- 
ful to examine ourfelves concerning the fin- 
cerity and purity both oi faith ^luA. lije: bleffing 
God, when we perceive ourfelves fteadfaft in 
the one and unblameable in the other : and 
as infinitely thankful for his grace to us, fo 
let us pray in fincerity and love for all thofe to 
whom that grace is yet denied, and w^ho yet 
wander in the darknefs of fin and unbelief, 
that it w^ould pleafe him to give them repent- 
ance to the acknowledgment of the truth; 
as alfo that we ourfelves may hold fail our 
faith and a good confcience^ which fliould 
never be feparated : for fome having put away 

a good 

c/ //^^ T A R E S. 121 

a good confcience, fays St. Paul, concerning 
faith bcroe made jhipwreck. 

Thus then we learn whence evil arofe 
from the beginning, namely from Satan, 
who is here called the ENEMT, becaufe of 
that enmity put between him and the feed 
of the woman, the fon of man in paradife, 
which will continue to the end. But be- 
caufe this e?2e?ny doth not always prejudice the 
church immediately by himfelf, but hath 
his tools and inftruments, through whom he 
fpreads idolatry, herefies, fuperftition, and 
all kinds of impiety through the world, there- 
fore, fay fome, he is called emphatically in 
the parable E^Spo^ AvOpaTo?, a rnan that is a7i 
enemy *. He is alfo called verfe 38 the wicked 
one, xov*ipoj» the evil one, becaufe he flood not 
in the truth, nor kept his firft eftate, but re- 
volted and fell away from God, who is the 
only good, and the only fountain of all good : 
and having made this fliameful revolt, his 
mind is turned from all good, and he is alone 
delighted with all evil, he walks about with 

* There is indeed no great flrefs to be laid upon this, 
fince, as Dr. Hammond ^^cW obrerves,the phrafe E;)(;0|jo? nv^^us- 
<ffQ^^ literally enemy man, is here an Hebraifm, the like 
as we fhall find EJi. vii. 6. The manadverfary^ or adver-^ 
fary ?nan^ is this zuickcd Haman. And fo it reftrains not 
the word here to a tnan^ but leaves it in the latitude, that 
£;i^9/3o? alone would be a man or devil. 


122 On the V" AR ABLE 

purpofes exacSly contrary to thofe of Chrijl^ 
(who went about doing good) feeking whom 
he may devour, doing evil only : and by hinrj- 
felf and his inftruments is the fole caufe of 
all unrighteoufnefs and iniquity aniongfl men. 
Surely then he is juftly called the enemy ^ and 
well would it be, if we continually efteemed 
him as fuch^ and of confequence abhorred ail 
fin and evil, which alone is the grand fupport 
of his kingdom \ for loho fimll harm us ^ if we 
be followers, not of that which is evil, but of 
that whicb is good, 

Chriji alfo would not only warn us of his 
enmity to man, and his love of evil, but of 
his craft and fubtilty : therefore he calls him 
A;a3oXc;, the devil, the accufer^ calumniator^ 
Jlanderer, the grand deceiver who always adls 
under a cloke, and by his enmity to the church 
aims at the head of it, at Chrifl himfelf, who 
is his bitter and profeiTed enemy, as being his 
conqueror and condemner. It deferves juft 
to be noted, that the Greek knows no other 
name for flaitderers than this of A/fir/3oAor, devils^ 
and this is the word ufed for them in the 
New-teftament *: 2.x\di\i fiandercrs in God's 
efteem, are mere devi Is ^howvQxy careful fhould 
it make us all of that heinous fin q{ fan- 
dering and backbiting^ which too many in- 

f: I Tim. iii. II. Not llandersrs, f.»: A;a;?o?vy?. 


^ /& T A R E S. 123 

jdulge, to the infinite hazard of their fouls 5 
and which they will do well to confider as an 
offence truly deviliOo: fince they themfelves 
in that language, wherein God has given us 
his divine gofpel, have no other appellation 
than that fearful one of — Devils ! 

Obferve next, this grand impoftor's method 
of proceeding: you fee, he fows his perni- 
cious feed not in his own but in the field of 
another : for the world or the church is not 
the property of the devil, but of God, both 
by right of creation and redemption. — Then 
you perceive, he doth not fow his tares, but 
where the good feed hath been firft fown: 
for his principal enmity, as well as devices 
are againft thofe, to whom the gofpel is 
preached : and whofe hearts are prepared by 
the miniilry of the word, to become the 
Jicld oi the Lord, that they may bring forth 
fruits worthy their profeffion.- — The whole 
human nature is corrupt; and while it re- 
mains in its natural corruption, Satan is not 
much folicitous about it : as knowing it fafe 
and fecure to him : he has no occafion to 
tempt or moleft open and profefl^ed finners. 
But as foon as he perceives any likely to efcape 
from his fnare and to be delivered from 
his power, then he exerts all his efforts, tq 


124 0?i //j^ P A R A B L E 

oppofe the work of God, and to bring back 
thcfe who are at all advanced from his king- 
dom, — the better to effect which, this fubtle 
adverfary diligently takes occalion, when he 
perceives thofe to fl<::ep and to be negligent 
in their office, whom the Lord hath either 
placed as public guardians and protestors of 
his field; or commandded ^^ private perfons 
to watch for themfelves. 1 bus while vVfEA^ 
SLEEP, the enemy comes and foweth tares : 
fends either deceivers and crafty hypocrites 
to beguile and infnare : or open contemners 
of the divine word, and inventors of evil, 
who both commit fin themfelves, and draw 
others by their example unto the like fliarne- 
ful pradices. And having done this he DE- 
PARTS, retreats into his former darknefs : 
his vile and treacherous fchemes and defigns 
are fecret at firfl:. and not eafily difcovered; 
it feems as if no harm were done : and men 
are drawn into evil infenfibly by his devices 
which are notmanifefl:, till the fad fruits of 
them are but too manifeft in faith and hfe. 

This fhould advife us of the ufe and ex- 
cellency of our Saviour's counfel : what I 
fay unto one^ Ifay unto all, watch : this fliould 
ftir up all chrifi:ians, but efpecially all faith- 
ful minifters of the word, to whom more 
efpecially Chrijl hath committed the care of 
3 his 

of the T K'K E S. 125 

his church, to (liake off all fpiritual y7i?/y?', and 
Jlwnber^ and to ftand to their ar-mi and watch ; 
that they may counterwork all the arts and 
fubtletles of fatan, as not ignorant of his de- 
'uices^ and be careful that the church of 
Chriji take no detriment from their negligence, 
and ill difcharge of their mod important office. 
Certain it is, that as foon as Adam began to 
fleep, as foon as he began to grow forgetful 
of the divine command, immediately the de- 
vil feiz'd the opportunity, brought death into 
the world and all our woe ! — And this fpiri- 
tual ilum.ber comes upon men by various 
ways : fometimes when they connive at the 
vices of thofe intrufted to their care : parents 
at the vices of their children, fparing the 
rod, and fpoiling the child : mafters at the 
vices of their fervants, hulbands at the vices 
of their wives, wives of their hufbands : ma- 
giftrates at the vices of the public, the pub- 
lic at the vices of magiftrates, encouraging 
and confirming them in evil, rather than fe- 
rioufly and duly remonftrating : neighbours 
at the vices of each other, fparing rebuke 
and friendly admonition, not exhorting each 
other with patience, meeknefs and love, which, 
tho' the kindeft and moft friendly of all offi- 
ces, would now be deem'd rank offence and 
bold affront — and all this notwithftanding the 


126 Oh the PARABLE 

great God hath commanded, Thou Jljalt ifi any 
wife by all means rebuke thy neighbour, and net 
fuffer Jin upon bim^ or rather, as the margin 
has it, that thou bear not Jin for hinx^ . — -Some- 
times this fpiritual flumber arifeth from the 
negligence of minifters to preach and ex- 
pound the divine word, to inftrud-, exhort^ 
rebuke : fometimes from the negligence of 
hearers to pray for a blefling upon what they 
hear: fometimes from the negligence of ma* 
giftrates to execute juftice and maintain truth. 
From thefe and various other the like caufes 
arifeth this fpiritual (lumber : which fatan 
never fails to improve to the prejudice of fouls, 
and to the increafe of his kingdom by fowing 
tares and propagating iniquity, in faith and 
pradlice amongft men. And alas for our poor 
church ! wherein but too vifibly and too con-^ 
feifedly all thefe evils abound, all thefe caufes 
of fpiritual flumber are notorious ! What can 
we expedt other than that it fliould be wholly 
overgrown with tares, for however men may 
,fleep to good, our reftlefs adverfary never 
fleeps to evil. 

As therefore we are thus informed of hi? 

devices, as well as of his implacable enmity 

to the children of the kingdom, to the word 

of truth, let us take care, that we fuffer not this 

* Lev. xix:, 17. 


tf the TARES. J27 

fpiritual flumber to creep upon us : but each 
one in our ftation diligently keep the watch, 
and guard againft all thofe evils, which fatan 
will not fail to improve to our fouls hurt. 
For ourfelves, let us each one watch and be 
fober, putting on the whole armour of God, 
and in whatever ftate or condition of life we 
are, let us refolutely endeavour to deftroy 
the works of fin, and to attack the kingdom 
of fatan : as certainly alTured, that we can 
have no peace with this fworn enemy to our 
fouls ; that if we will not continue ftrongly 
refiftinghim in the Lord, he will take every op- 
portunity to corrupt our faith and life : and by 
his means we fhall daily grow worfe and worfe, 
till ripe for deftrudion, we are caft into that 
kingdom of his, where is weeping and gnash- 
ing of t^eth -^Therefore, my brethren, re- 
folv'd to fight manfully againft him, he ftrong^ 
not in any opinion of your own ftrength, hue 
in the Lord and in the power of his might. 
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye ?nay 
be able to (land againfl the wiles of the deviL 
And remember, that you have need of all 
care and circumfpedion, FOR we wrejlle not 
againft fle/J:) and bloody in this fpiritiial combat^ 
hut againft principalities^ againft- powers ^ againft 
the rulers of the darknefs of this world, ^'g^^'^fi 
fpiritual %mckedncji in /v*g-/^ places. Wherefore 


128 Of? /y&i? P A R A BL E 

take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye 
7nay be able to withjland in the evil day^ and 
having done all^ to Jland, 

Thus I have fhewn you whence all evil 
arofe in the world, and in the church : even 
from the devil, the grand enemy and acciifer^ 
whofe hatred to man, as well as his devices, 
I have endeavour'd to lay open, as far as the 
prefent parable leads thereto: — It may now be 
afked, if all evil doth thus arife from that 
fallen fpirit, called the devil and fatan j how 
is it that the great God permits its continuance 
in the world ? — Which naturally leads me 
to the fecond queftion, which this parable re- 
folves, namely, the reafon^ why God permits 
eviL-^ And tho' indeed a laudable defire " to 
juftify the ways of God to man" may lead us 
to affign probable reafons for the divine con- 
dud: 5 yet this hke other fuch queflions might 
very properly be refolved into the wonderful 
depths of God's wifdom and juftice, which 
with our prefent dim light we can by no 
means perfedly difcern, which with the pre- 
fent (hort line of human reafon we can by no 
means fathom : and that more efpecially when 
we are afTured, that he hath appointed a day 
wherein he will judge the world in righteouf- 
nefs. Tho' thus we might abundantly fatis- 
fy every true believer 5 yet we may, without 


of the TARES. 129 

prefumption, venture to afiign fome probable 
reafons for God's proceedings in this refpedt, 
which will appear in the next difcourfe 3 and 
while confidered, with due humility, and the 
moft profound veneration of the wifdom and 
juftice of all the great Jehovah's ways and 
works, they may thro* grace tend to eftablifli 
our faith, and enable us with greater confi- 
dence to fing the fong of Mofes here, that we 
may fing it with full afl^ent and perfect 
triumphhere after, Great and marvellous are thy 
works. Lord God Almighty ; jujl and true are 
thy ways, thou king of faints. Revel, xv. 3. 

Vol. IIJ. K On 

On the PARABLE of the Tares. 


Matt. xiii. 28—3,0. 

ne fervatits faid unto him^ wilt thou then that 
we go and gather them up? — But he faid y 
nay : leji while ye gather up the tares y ye root 
up alfo the wheat with them, — het both grow 
together until the harveji 5 and in the time of 
harvejl I will Jay to the reapers y. gather ye 
together Jirji the Tares, and bind them in 
bundles to burn them , but gather the heat 
into my barn.- 

F"MMi^"^ Obferved in the former fermon 
^ J ^ that the prefent Parable fupplies us- 
^ ^ with an anfwer to three queftions, 

^ky^M^^ji which have much perplex'd the 
enquiry, and often fhake the faith of chriftians, 

Ift, Whence 

On the PARABLE, &V. 131 
Ift, Whence evil arofe, as well in the world 
in general, as in the church in particular. 

Ildly, Why it is permitted of God : And, 

Illdly, What the iffue or confequence of it 
will be. 

Concerning the firft, our Saviour fully in- 
forms us, when he declares, that he himfelf, 
by whom the worlds were made, fowed good 
feed only in his field, but that his arch-ene- 
my, the grand accufer and adverfary of men, 
fowed tares amongft the good feed : and of 
confequence is the author of all evil, the fole 
origin^ and caiife of it, as God alone is the 
author of all good. 

Here a queftion naturally arifeth from the 
dim apprehenfions of men, and their very 
contraded view of the great defigns of God, 
why it is, that, when he fowed good feed 
only in his field, he fliould fuifer the tares 
fown by his enemy to continue and grow up 
with it — why he would not comply with the 
propofition made by his fervants, wilt thou then 
that we go and gather them up ? In his an- 
fwer to Vv'hom we are fupplied with a general 
reafon, why the good and wife God of heaven 
and earth permits the tares to remain among 

K 2 the 

132 On //^^ P A R A B L E 

the wheat, permits the continuance of evil in 
that creation, which he pronounced very good ^ 
in that church where he fowed nothing but 
the pure and wholfome feed of the divine 

But he faidy nay : I will by no means allow 
you to go and gather up the tares : Irji while 
ye gather up the tareSy thro* inadvertency and 
miftake, thro* hafte, or thro* neceffity, ye 
root up the wheat alfo with them. For by ei- 
ther of thefe three means the wheat might 
fuffer 5 I ft, thro' the inadvertence or mi/take of 
the fervants, Vv^ho might very poffiblyin a field 
intermixed with tares and wheat, lay hold 
of a ftalk of good corn inftead of a tare. 
2d!y, Thro' hajie, in their zeal to pluck up the 
tares they might very eafily root up fome 
wheat inftead thereof: and 3dly, This evil 
would arife fometimes from necejjity : the roots 
cf the tares and of the wheat being fo inter- 
mingled, that it would be naturally impoffi- 
ble to pluck up the one without rooting up 
the other alfo : and the original feems to 
lead to this as the principal reafon, ^v^ va^\C,o^v{tb^ 
left ye tear up by the root the wheats while 
gathering up the tares ; between which there 
is fo natural and neceflary an intermingling 
of roots, that one cannot well be difturbed, 
without diftuibing the other alfo. So that 


cf the TARES. 133 

you perceive, the good huibandman out of 
regard folely to the good corn, fuiFers the 
tares to continue till the day of harveft. 

Now let us apply this to the cafe of evil 
in the world, and we fliall fee the fame good 
reafons for God's fuffering it, as for the huf- 
bandman's fuffering the tares among the 
wheat, Suppofe God was to give his fervants 
in this world, a power to deftroy evil, and 
to root up the workers of iniquity, either 
heretics or common fmners^ there would be the 
fame danger to the good, from the above 
caufes, as to the wheat from the gathering up 
of the tares. For ift, ijiadvertence and ^nif- 
take, from which men are never free, would 
much endanger the good feed, the children 
of the kingdom. Men, being the inftru- 
ments in God's hand of his vindidive juftice, 
as being meji only, fubjedl to error and liable 
to miftake, however fincere and however up- 
right in intention, might and would frequent- 
ly err in their opinions of others 3 and either 
in the cafe of kerefy or immorality ^ fuppofe 
thofe guilty who were not fo in God's account^ 
and thofe innocent, who were moft deteftable 
in his fight, who alone can fee the heart, and 
who alone can be a proper judge ofadlions, 
as trying and knowing the intention j which 
Jieth deeper, than any human Eye can pene- 
K 3 trate. 

134 On the ? Ml AB LE 

trate, and is that wherein the effential dif- 
ference of adions confifls. 

And in the various communions of 
Chriftians it fi-equently happens, that fomc 
very fincere and ftrenuous for the one, fup- 
pofe thofe of another bafe tares, fit only to 
be burned, who are really children of the 
kingdom, The Jews efteemed that way, in 
which St. Pau/ worfhipped the God of their 
Fathers, herejy, and therefore were for kill- 
ing him : but fee how great was their miftake 
' — what they called here/y was, in the fight 
of God, a right and acceptable fervice. And 
on the other hand, as men may miftake the 
children of the kingdom, for the children of 
the wicked one, fo may they err on the o- 
ther fide : Satan often transforms himfelf in- 
to an angel of light; and fome over- zealous 
hypocrites are fo like real chriftians both in 
profeflion and pradice, and all things exter- 
nal, that it is well nigh impoflible for any 
but the trier of the hearts and reins to fee 
their vilenefs, or difcern their fhamelefs hy- 
pocrify : nay, and the moft fubtle heretics^ the 
better to glofs over their evil caufe, have fre- 
quently affumed a more than ordinary ftrid- 
nefs and fobriety of life, whereby they have 
been better enabled to fpread their tares, and 
by their cunning craftinefs to lay in wait and 


of the TARE S. 135 

deceive. Who but the difcerner of hearts 
could have drawn the veil from off the zea- 
lous Pharifees and fhewn the whited fepukhres^ 
full of dead mens bones and all uncleannefs ? 
— Not that it follows from hence, that there 
is an abfolute impoflibility to diftinguiih ei- 
ther grofs Jinners or opef2 heretics: our Saviour 
hath given us an infallible rule, whereby to 
know both the one and the other, by their 
FRUITS ye jhall know them, — by the evil 
pradices of the one, by the evil dodlrines of 
other. Bat from what hath been faid, it 
plainly appears, that there are many cafes, 
wherein men muft and will err, on both fides 
miftaking tares for wheat5and wheat for tares; 
— either blinded by their natural prejudices, 
however otherwife fincere and upright: or 
by the cunning craftinefs and hypocrify of 
deceivers, who are fometimes fo transformed 
into angels of light, that nothing lefs than 
the difcerner of hearts can pierce through 
the veil, and difcover the malignant heart 

In this refpeft men therefore would be 
very improper inftruments to gather up the 
tares : and as miftake, fo adly, too much hajie 
and zeal to root up the evil, might endan- 
ger the good. 

Men ftill are men : and often when well 


136 On the V A % A B L E. 

perfuaded of their own fincerity, they mif- 
take bigotry for zeal, and call perfecution 
doing God fervice. The difciples themfelves 
fliew fomething of this Spirit : when the Sa- 
maritans refufed to give their mafter entrance 
in violent zeal for his honour, as they doubt- 
lefs thought, toohaftily, faid they, Lord, wilt 
thou that we c(ill down Jif^e from heaven toconfume 
them as Elias didf They fuppofed all thefe 
-Samaritans bafe tares, fit only to be burned, 
and in hafty zeal would have gathered them 
up to confume them : but fheir Lord re- 
buked them faying, ye know not what manner 
of Spirit ye are of: for the Son of ?nan is not 
come to dejiroy mens lives ^ hut to fave them, — ? 
And hereafter it will be feen, that there are 
many amongft thefe whom ye would thus 
haftily deftroy, who will receive the word 
gladly, and become children of the king- 
dom. And poftibly, by the way, our Sa-- 
viour might fuggeft this particular in the pre- 
fcnt parable not only to warn his difciples 
then, but his followers in all ages, againft 
this hafty, fiery, perfecuting fpirit, which, 
whatever may be the motive for adling, how 
great foever our apparent zeal for God, and 
the honour of bis caufe, is by all means 
contrary to the Spirit of Chrifty who will 
in mercy fave the tares, for the fake of the 

cj the T-A R't^l^^ ,37 

good corn, who came not to root up and to burn, 
not to deftroy, but to favc mens lives. Who can 
doubt of the fincerity of Paul\ zeal, when 
breathing out threatnings and flaughter, he 
went to Damafcus to imprifon all that called 
on the name of "Jefus! I FERILT thought ^ 
faid he, with myfelf^ that I OUGHT to do 
many things contrary to the 7iame of Jefus of 
Nazareth, But by means of this over-hafty 
zeal, he caufed many of the faints to be put 
to death, and found reafon to lament him- 
felf afterwards as a blafphemery a perfecutor^ 
and injurious, as the chiej ofjinners *. 

In this refpedl therefore men are again, by 
po means qualified to be employed in any 
work of this nature, but fhould learn from 
God's long fufFering and forbearance, the 
like forbearance and love, remembring that 
Chrift W\\\ not have his kingdom promoted 
by fire and [wordy iince he reigns not over 
the bodies, but in the hearts and confciences 
of men, which no outward force can reach- 
and will by no means put the power into 
any of his creatures hands, to root up the 
tares, lejl they root up the wheat a-Jo : the fad 
confequences of attempting which we fee but 
Ipo manifeftly in a neighbour church, whofe 

* I Tim, i. 13 — ^15. 


ijg On the PARABLE 

many bloody perfecutlons again ft heretics^ as 
they are charitably pleafed to ftyle all, who 
differ from their communion, have rooted 
up much wheat, many children of the king- 
dom, and made the field of God a mere 
Aceldama^ a field of blood! — They are a full 
example of all before advanced, namely, that 
men are very improper inftruments, however 
fincere we may fuppofe them, to gather up 
the Tares; fioce unavoidable miflakes thro* 
prejudice or hypocrify, or too hafty undif- 
cerning zeal without due knowledge, will of 
neceffity endanger the good corn: — and I 
doubt not, but we {hould all with one con- 
fent, fuppofing it poflible for the deity, to 
put it to our choice, difclaim the ufe oihuman 
injij'iments for the purpofe of rooting up the 
tares from amongft the good corn. 

But 3dly, fuppofing it to be poffible that 
men could difcern, who were and were not 
2f^r^j, and that God fhould endue them with 
even a miraculous difcerning of fpirits, as 
well as a clear knowledge, unbiaflTed by falfe 
prejudice or zeal ; or in other words, fuppofs 
he ihould ufe his holy angelsy as the imme- 
diate inftruments of his vengeance upon the 
wicked 5 yet in the prefent ftate of things, 
and the prefent difpofition of human affairs, 
;is it would be impoffible to gather up the 


of the TARE S. 139 

tares, without infinite prejudice and danger 
to the wheat, on account of that neceflary 
intermingling and interweaving of the roots 
of one with the other — So on account of the 
mutual conjunction of interefts and alliances 
of men one with the other, it would be im- 
poffible to difcriminate or to feparate the good 
from the bad, by any vindidlive punifhment, 
or to afflid the one without greatly afflidting 
the other alfo. In the prefent intermixture 
of men and things, good and bad, the good 
have frequently fuch a dependance upon the 
bad, that the ruin of the one would be the 
ruin of the other alfo. A good child frequent- 
ly has its whole dependance upon a worldly 
wicked father : a good father frequently has 
his higheft earthly happinefs in an unworthy 
child, to fee whom cut off in the bloffom 
of his fins, would overwhelm his foul in for- 
row. A good wife with many otherwife help- 
lefs babes frequently depends for fubfiflence 
upon a worthlefs huiband : a good fervant 
upon a bad mafter, and the like. ''The fame 
titles in law : the fame advantages in trade : 
the fame hazards of perfon are fhared between 
good and bad ; the fame vefl^el on fea, the 
fame family on land, the fame fbop in the 
city contains both : fo that it is not poflible 
to any human confideration, for ftorms or 


140 On /& P A R A B L E 

fire or peftilence, fuppofe God himfelf the 
righteous minifler of them, or for any other 
common calamity to fever between them * /' 
So that as there is, and muft neceflarily be 
this mutual dependance, it would be impof- 
fible unlefs a new heaven and a new earth 
and newinhabitants were to be formed, which 
is foreign to the prefent inquiry -f- for any 
reparation, in the prefent ftate of things to 
be made, abfolutely fpeaking, without pre- 
judice to the wheat, as well as the tares : 
to the children of the kinedom as well as 
to the children of the wicked one. So that 
we muft wait for the great day of harveft, 
when all things that offend fhall be gathered 
put of the kingdom, the tares be con- 
figned to everlafting burning, the wheat to 
the celeftial garner of their God. 

* Thefe are the word-s of the excellent Dr. Stanhope 
In this parable in the 2d vol. of his ufcful commentary 
on the epiflles and gofpels: whofe whole reafoning on this 
fubjeft I could have been glad to have produced rather 
than my own — -as far fuperior : — to wh:ch I muft ac- 
Icnowledge my felf highly indebted ; — and wiih pieafurc re- 
fer the reader thither, defirous of fuller information on 
this fuhj.'Ct. 

i* See for an anfwer to thequeftion, why God permits 
cvU^ archbifliop King'^ treatife concerning the origin of evil ^ 
chap. 5. Ceil. 5. ?.nd following. He juftly fuppo'es all evil 
fe^ondarily, to arife from depraved eleSha}is,2ii)d then proves 
that a renioval o'i free-will from man ii incoiiAllent and 


tf the TARES. 141 

Thus then we have a fatisfadory reply 
to the fecond queftion, why God fufFers the 
continuance of that evil^ which came through 
envy of the devil : this we fee arifes folely 
from his good-will to the children of the 
kingdom, whom in the prefent ftate of things 
it is impoffible to feparate from the wicked, 
without greatly endangering them, impoffi- 
ble to gather up the tares without rooting 
up the wheat alfo: which impoffibility we 
have confidered as well in reference to the 
hijiruments of rooting up, as to the natural 
/it nation of things^ and that mutual dependance 
and connedion of the good with the bad, 
that mutual intermingling and interweaving 
of the roots one with the other : fo that the 
tares cannot be pulled up without difturbing 
the wheat, at its very foundation, without 
rooting it up alfo. 

I will juft before I conclude this head, fug- 
geft to your confideration two reafons more, 
why God permits evils and herejies^ one in 
reference to the good, the other in reference 
to the wicked : which, tho' not immediately 
implied in the parable, will be thought, I 
hope, not altogether foreign to the fubje<5t. 
The firft is mentioned by St- Paul, there mufi 
be alfo herefies among you, faith he, that they 
which are approved may be ?nade manifef among 


142 On the P A R A B L E 

you *: there fnuft A^/ oportet — not from any na- 
tural neceflity, as if they were good in thern*- 
felves, but it is expedient for them to be, they 
muft arife from the prefent corrupt, fallen, 
difordered ftate of men and things : — that 
God produceth good from them, is a proof 
not of their ufefulnefs, but of his over-ruling 
wifdom and power and goodnefs. — iiZifr^/^'; 
therefore, as appears from thefe words of St. 
Fauly tend to the manifeftation of thofe who 
are found in the faith and dodlrine, andfo are 
approved in the fight of God. And thus he is 
pleafed to make them ferviceable to the good 
Jeed^ the children of the kingdom giving them 
by means hereof an opportunity " to exercife 
their patience, their wifdom, their charity : 
thus raifing in the minds of men a love of the 
truth : making it better underftood, caufing 
it to be preached in a more clear, zealous and 
exemplary manner: exciting the vigilance of 
the paftors, to difcover the wolves concealed 
among the flock, the tares amongft the good 
conj, and to make thofe fheep manifeft, 
which grow in charity by feeding fecretly 
on the truth: cleanfing and purifying the 
vefTels of mercy by the veffels of wrath to 
confound the devil, and to fulfil the fcrip- 
tures "f." Thus herefies, by the wifdom of 

* I Cor. xi. 19. t ^^fncllc on Cor. 


of the TARES. 14^ 

God, are permitted for the advantage of the 
children of the kingdom : and he, who 
knows how to make this evil fabftrvient 
to the encreafe of his kingdom hath fuf- 
fered an Eblon and C^r/w/i;/^^ to- oppugn the 
divinity of his Son, that it might appear 
the more manifeft by the gofpel of St. 
"John^ written on account of their herefy : 
— hath fufFered judaizing converts to op- 
pofc the freedom of juflifying grace, that 
the pen of a Paul might for ever filence 
all adverfarieSj and magnify the riches of 
the mercy of God ; and in all times hath fuf- 
fered heretics and unbelievers to oppofe the 
faith, that thefe 'who are approved^ might be 
made manijefl. And as in the cafe of herefy 
in the church, io hath God fuffered evil 
in the world to the fame end : an abfolute 
removal of it, would be a removal from the 
good, of many occafions and opportunities 
for exerting feveral graces and virtues. Pa- 
tience, forbearance, meeknefs, charity and 
the like would have no exiftence, nor could 
there be thofe afflidions and trials, and va- 
rious means of good, which are now mi- 
niftred to the children of the kingdom by 
means uf evil, to prove, purify, purge and 
perfect them. *' Many other graces there 
are, as one obfervcs *, that there would 

t Erfkine's fermons, Vol II. 


144 On tbe P A K A B L E. 

be no ufe for, if all our enemies and corruption^ 
were deftroyed at once. Triumphant graces,- 
fuch as love and joy in their perfedlion 
would make a pcrfed: heaven : but there are; 
militant graces that muft be exercifed alfo, 
while we are on earth, and which there will 
be no ufe for in heaven : for example, if all 
wants v^ere fupplied fully, there would be no 
need ot poverty of Spirit j if all fins were 
wholly deftroyed, there would be no more 
need of godly forrow 2 if death were already 
fwallowed up of vidlory, there would be nd 
need of the defire of death, nor of longing 
for heaven : if vifion were already come, there 
would be no need of faith, as 'tis a militant 
grace, fighting its way many times through 
doubts and fears, and want of fight and 
fenfe: if fruition were come, there would 
be no need of hope: if all trouble were at 
an end, there would be no Q^ed of patience.'* 
Nay, indeed were all evil removed from men 
and things, the prefent ftate could not th«n 
be what it now is, a ftate of probation ^ 
take away fin and evil, and this world is ai 
paradife, and men are t^ecyyehoi, equal to the 
angels of God : for this it is which conffi- 
tutes the happinefs of that holy city ; out of 
which ihc fearful and unbelieving and abomi- 
nable are caft, and v/here neither fin nor for- 

of the r A V. E "S. 145 

row, crying, pain or death fliall in any wife 

Thus we fee one good reafon more, why 
God fuffers evil, which is plainly for the ad- 
vantage of the righteous : but 2dly, that he 
hath wife and good ends even in behalf of 
the tares, of t\\t wicked^ infuftering them not 
immediately to be deftroyed, will appear very 
manifeft, v/hen we recoiled: that his patience 
and forbearance leadeth to repentance, and 
that iinners having had fpace and time al- 
lowed them, have frequently magnified the 
riches of his mercy, and become of the chil- 
dren of the wicked o?ie^ children of the kingdom : 
for though tares can never, by any work of 
man, become good feed : yet, by the almighty 
grace of God, for which we all, miferable 
Iinners, are bound continually to adore him — 
yet by his grace, children of the v^icked one 
may become children of the kingdom; fm- 
ners may become faints : enemies may be 
made the fons and friends of God, through 
the blood of the everlalling covenant. Had 
Faid been plucked up, when a blafphemer, 
a perfecutor and injurious, or Matthew while 
engaged in unlawful gain : had Peter been 
plucked up while curfing and fwearing, and 
denying his mafter : or M/^^^-Z^/Wz while burn- 
ing in the flames of impure luft : had Auflin 

\'Qi.. III. No. 4. L been 

146 On the PARABLE 

been rooted up when abandoned to all the 
impurities of fin, or loft in the grofs errors 
and herefies of the Manichees~oi how much 
glory had the grace of almighty God been 
deprived in the converfion of thefe to the 
faith ; of how much good had the church 
been deprived, which hath followed from their 
converfion ^and labours ? 

And indeed there is nothing which more 
abundantly manifefts the unfpeakable good- 
nefs of God, than this tender forbearance, 
this gracious long-fufFering of his towards 
finners: for which we are bound perpetually 
to praife him on our own behalfs: and for a 
continuance of which we fhould never ceafe 
to pray both for ourfelves and others: fince 
our many and daily provocations fo juftly de- 
ferve his wrath, and would certainly draw it 
down, were his compafiions only like thofe 
of men, were he only merciful as we are mer- 
ciful : for did any one provoke us fo grofly, 
fo frequently, fo repeatedly as we provoke 
and ofi^end our heavenly Father : fl:iould we 
be fo ready to pardon? would not our re- 
fentment be kindled? would not our friend- 
fiiip and regard wholly he extinguifhed ? too 
well, from fad experience we are afllired, 
that it would : but his mercies fail not : yea 
they as much exceed all the mercies of the 


vf the T KK E S. 147 

imoft merciful, as he is fuperlor to the loweft 
of his creatures : the reflection on which 
fhould fiil us with the higheft love to fo 
amiable a being, who is not willing that any 
fhould perifli: and therefore permits the tares 
to continue among the wheat, hoping they 
may, through grace, be changed and con- 
verted unto good: for he defiretb^ that all 
fhould come to repentance and live 3 for he is 
a God, merciful and gracious^ long-fuffering 
and abundant in goodnefs and truth: keeping 
mercy for thoufands^ forgiving iniquity and trafjf- 
grejjion and fn: BUT WILL BT NO 
penitent, hardened unbeliever, who rejedts 
all his offers of grace and love, and chufes 
death rather than life in the error of his 
ways : feeing he hath appointed a day, wherein 
he will judge the world in righteoufnefs, vindi- 
cate all his ways, and fhew that they were 
juft and right by rendering to every man ac- 
cording to his works \ to them, who by patient con- 
tinuance in weli'doing, feek for ho?mir and glory 
and immortality \ %mllhe render eterjiallife : but un- 
to them that are contentious and obey not the truth 
but obey unrighteoufnefs ; indignation and wrath, 
tribulation and a?7guifJj, upon every foul of man 
that doth evil: which naturally leads me to 
the refolution of the 

L 2 Hid 

148 On the PARABLE 

Illd and laft queftion fuggefted in this 
parable, namely, what the iffiie or event of 
evil, hov^ever it may pais off here unpuni (lied, 
w^ill be in that ftate where all things fhall be 
fet right : and let us remember, that a know- 
ledge of this future ftate and this great ap- 
pointed day, is of itfelf entirely fufficientto/a- 
tisfy all our doubts, fuppofing we could fee no 
reafons at prefent capable of juftifying the 
ways of God : if all that hath gone before and 
all that can be offered on this fubje(5l, ftiould 
be deemed utterly infufficient to a refolution of 
the great queftion in hand, let humility learn 
to wait with lowly expedation, feeing the 
great hour is approaching, when the judge of 
all the earth will demonftrate that all his ways 
are equal 3 that hclinefs cannot fail of his fa- 
vour and eternal love : that iniquity (hall by 
no means efcape unpuniftied. An awful con- 
fideration: which as it cannot but awaken in 
the finner's mind dreadful apprehenfions, fo 
muft it confole and fupport the children of 
the kingdom however grieved, oppreffed, or 
fuffering here below : when they know that 
their redemption draweth nigh, how can they 
fail to lift up their heads ? and, in truth, 
a full perfuafion of the great truths de- 
livered in this laft part of the parable, are 


of the TARES. 149 

fufficient to comfort every mourner in Sion^ 
as well as to abafh and terrify every bold de- 
fpifer of the great judge of heaven and earth. 

Are God's ways unequal? are not his judg- 
ments juft? doth vice flourifh and abound? 
and is humble virtue depreffed and perfecuted ? 
do tares grow up with the wheat ? are evils 
fufFered in the world, and herefies permitted 
in the church ? behold and fee the great day 
is coming, when he will terribly avenge him- 
felf, and all ihall join in that triumphant fong 
of Mofes and the Lamb, Great and marvellous 
are thy wcrJzs, Lord God almighty^ juft and 
true are thv ivays^ thou king of Saints^ 

And thus his dealings are now reprefented 
in the facred fcriptures to us, that every 
mouth may be flopped, that none may dare 
to implead the God of juftice, but that all 
may plead themfelves guilty, and fo find 
mercy before him. 

For, let both grow together, faith the 
houfholder, unwilling to fuffer his fervants 
to gather up the tares, left they fliould root 
up the vv'heat alfo, — let both grow together un^ 
til the har'uejiy and in the time of harveft^ I 
will fay to the reapers , gather up together firfl 
the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them^ 
but gather the wheat into my ba?'n. Which our 
great prophet and teacher thus unfolds to 
us ; The harvejl is the end of the worlds and 

L 3 ' th^ 

150 0/2 ^fo P ARABLE 

the reapers are the angels : as therefore the tares 
are gathered and burnt in the fire , fo fball it be 
in the end of the iporld : the Son oj man fiall 
fend forth his angels y and they fhall gather out 
of his kingdom all things that o^end^ and them 
which do iniquity^ and Jl: all caji them into afur- 
71 ace of fire : there fhall be weeping arid g?2afij^ 
ing of teeth, Then ftjall the righteous fijine forth 
as the fun in the kingdom of their Father 3 even 
as the prophet Daniel foretold, and many of 
them that fiecp in the dujl of the earth fijall 
awake y jo me to everlajiing life^ andfome tofloame 
and everlafiing contempt. And they that be wife 
fall fidine as the brightnefs of the firmament ^ 
and they that turn many to righteoifnefs as the 
far s for ever and ever *. He that hath ears ta 
hear let him hear. Thus fliall iniquity meet 
its due reward, thus fliall evil for ever be done 
away : thus fhall the righteous be crowned 
with everlafting glory: and thus fhall the 
kingdom of Chrifi be free from all things that 
offend, for ever and ever. — The better to un- 
derfland, as far as in this dark ftate we are able, 
the blelTednefs of that glorious kingdom, and 
its ineftimable privileges ; — and fo on the con- 
trary, the miferies of an eternal confinement 
in a furnace of fulphureous flame, kindled by 
the breath of an angry God, where are heard 
only conftant weepings, dire waillngs, and 


* Daiv xii. ?., 3. 

of the TARE S. 151 

fad gnafhings of the teeth^ through bitter 
recolledion of part follies, and the intolerable 
feverity of prefent fufferings: the better, I 
fay, to conceive a juft dread hereof and an 
ardent longings which furely muft be attended 
with a zealous feeklng^ after that heavenly 
city : I will conclude the prefent difcourfe 
with a brief defcription of that glorious city, 
the New Jeriifalem^ and fuch of its divine pri- 
vileges and properties, as are mentioned in the 
laft chapters of the RevelatloJi : where though 
many things are by no means to be under- 
iiood in the letter, yet I fliall not dare to attempt 
an explication of them, fince the words in 
which they are at prefent delivered, give us 
far more lofty and fublirne ideas, than any 
of uninfpired writers can do : and fuch as can 
be exceeded by nothing, but real vifion, and 
the tranfporting profped: of that divine city, 
when the triumphant Redeemer (liall deliver 
us from this mortal prifon, and welcome us 
into that unfpeakably glorious abode : and 
oh that he would now give us a/I ears to 
hear^ hearts to defire and pant after this city 
of the living God, and grace to purify our- 
felves as he is pure, that we may fee him in 
bliis and enjoy him eternally in glory. 

I. St. fohn^ after a profped of the genera 
refbrredion and judgment, when whofoever 
L 4 wa^ 

152 0/2 //;^ P A R A B L E 

was not found written in the book of life, was 
caftinto the lake of fire, informs us, that he 
faiD a new heaven and a new earthy for the fir jl 
heaven and the firfl earth were paffed away^ and 
there was 720 more fea: no more any thing 
frail, fleeting, changeable, tempeftuous. And 
l^o\ix\faw the holy city^ the new Jerufalem, 
coming down from God^ cut of heaven^ prepared 
as a bride adorned for her hufband. The mag^ 
uificence and beauty of this glorious city, are 
defcribed in the mod exalted terms : It is 
fa id to have the glory of Gody and her lights 
faith St. John, was like unto a ft one mo ft pre^ 
ciouSy even like a jdfper fione^ clear as the cryf- 
tal: it had a wall great and high : and had twelve 
gates, and at the gates, twelve mighty angels^ 
and names written thereon, which' are the names ^ 
of the twelve tribes of Ifrael : on the eafi three 
gates, on the north three gates, on the fouth three 
gates, and on the weft three gates : and the wall 
of the city had twslve foundations, and in them 
the immes of the twelve apoflles of the Lamb 3 pro- 
bably to reprefent to us, that whofoever in- 
habit that glorious city, have built only on 
that faith which the apoftles once delivered 
to the faints : upon which the church is truly 
buiit, being built upon the foundation of the 
apoftles and prophets, Jefus Chrifl himfelf being 


of the TARES. 153 

the head corner fione ■*. — And he that talked 
with nWy faith the Apocalypt, had a golden 
reed to vteafure the cify\ and the gates thereof^ 
and the wall thereof. And the city lieth 
fourfquare^ and the length is as large as 
the breadth: and he meafured the city with 
a reed twelve thoufand furlongs: the leiigtb 
and the breadth and the height of it are 
equal. And he meafured the wall of it an hun^ 
dred and J or ty four cubits^ according to the mea- 
fure of a man^ that is^ the angel. Thus you 
have the extent of the city, and its exquifite 
proportion defcribed in the moft magnificent 
terms : four-fquare with a wall around it, on 
each fide three gates, and at each gate a 
mighty angel : its length and breadth and 
height being equal, and each aftonidnngly 
great, at leaft feveral thou/and miles I what are 
all the moft mighty cities of the world com- 
pared to this great city the new Jerufalem I 
ferufakm, in Pakjline^ v/as, as we are told, 
thirty three furlongs in its whole circumference. 
Alexandria thirty in length, ten in breadth ; 
Nineveh is reported to have been four hundred 
furlongs round, and the great city of Babylo?i 
four hup.dred and eig-htv ! but what in- 

* Alluding, fays H,niyy en the phicc, to tlic twelve apof- 
ties, verfe J4, whole ffofpcl doftiincs are the foundations 
iipon which the churcii is built. Sec t! c iibepherd of St. 
l-iernasj q fiiiiilitudc, B, 3, 


154 On the PARABLE 

inconfiderable villages are all thcfe, and all the 
cities of the world to the new Jerufalem, one 
of whofe fides meafured twelve thou [and fur- 
longs I -^ — From hence we underftand the 
immenfe greatnefs and magnificence of the 
city, with its beautiful order and exadt pro- 
portion : to give us the comfortable afiiirance, 
that how fmall foever the number of real 
chrifl;ian3 may appear in any age or time, the 
number of the inhabitants of that bleflfed 
city will not be fmall : but thoufand thoufands 
will enjoy its glory, and ten thoufand times 
ten thoufand will minifl:er to the great Lord 
of it) who moreover gives us to know by 
this defcription, that every thing reladng to 
the happinefs of that fi:ate, is prepared with 
the greatefl order and exadnefs. 

t This is Bengelius' remark : Jlupemla mngniiudo ! 
fays he. Alexandria 30 Jiadiorum longitudhum habuijje 
dkitur apudyojephum. tiierofolymorum circuitus apud eun- 
dem i^-T^jiadiis : Thebarum apud Die £er4r chum 43 ftadiis : 
Ninives apud Diodcrum Siculn?n xoojladiis definitur : Ba~ 
lylonetn Herodotus Ubro I. alt habuijje in qitoUbet latere i 20 
fiadia^ in circuitu 480 Jladia : rniir unique juijje 50 cubitos 
crajjum Cjf 200 cubitos altum 1 quicquid w bium rnundus ha- 
het V \c\i\\ funt ad novam yerufale?n. Ettj habet hoc loco vim 
dijlrilutivam ut in tabids ^ i'f cvo?, sttj TiT/apwp, ^c. Jinguli^ 
quaterni : vide Bud^Ei lingua: Grcs. col. b8f. Itaque etti 
hoc vcrju [it>) non Jquenti^ adhib tur ^ ftgjvf cat 12^000 
jladia fiugulorwn cjje laterurn. urbis^ non tot -us clnuitui — 
ViJc authorem. 


of the TARE S. 155 

2. But to fee further how very excellent things 
arefpoken of this city of God, let us confider 
the matter whereof it is built, and we fliall 
then behold in its beauty and riches the po- 
verty of all earthly grandeur. T^he building 
of the wall of it is of jajper : and the city is 
pure gold, like u?2to pure glafs. And the foun* 
dations of the walls oj the city are garnifhed 
with all manner of precious flones, The firjl 

foundation is jafper : the fccond japphire : the 
third chalcedony : the fourth an emerald, the fifth 
fardonyx : the fixth,fardius : the feve7tth, chry- 
Jolite : the eighth, beryl: the 7iinth, a topaz: the 
tenth, a cryfoprafus : the eleventh, a jacinth : 
the twelfth, an ameihyf. And the twelve gates 
were twelve pearls : ever\j fever al gate was of 
one pearl : aj^d the freet of the city was pure 
gold, as it were tranfparent glafs. All the mod 
beautiful, excellent and precious things in na- 
ture are applied to elevate our ideas to the 
moft exalted pitch, concerning the beauties 
and grandeur of this moft magnificent city : 
the whole of whofe ftrudure is reprefented 
to us under what images are the moft valu- 
able and exquifite, namely precious ftones, 
pearls and gold. 

3. But the internal glories of the city far 
tranfcend its outward ones : there flmll be no 
temple there,^ we are told : the worfhippers 


156 On the PARABLE 

fliall indeed worfhip there in fpirit and in 

truth : when the end is attained, the means 

are no longer ulefnl \ for' the Lord God almighty 

and the Lamb are the temple of it : there iliine 

forth all their inexpreffible glories, and there 

ftream forth all the boundlefs bleffings of their 

inexhauflible love : hence it is, that the city 

hath no need oj the fun ^ neither of the moon to 

Jhine in it : Jor the glory of God doth lighten it^ 

and the Lamb is the light thereof: and the na- 

tions of them that are fived^ JbaJl walk in' the 

light of it : and the kings oj the earth do bring 

all their glory and honour to it. All the glory 

and majefty of earthly courts fliall be, as it 

were, united there: and far, very far exceeded ; 

and in this refpedl particularly, namely, that 

' the gates of it jh all not be fnit at all by day^ that 

is, ihall never be (liut, fince there will be 

only one perpetual, bright, and glorious day 

in that celcflial abode, for there fj all be no night 

there. And there fall be no night there ^ faith 

he again, and they need no candle Jieither light 

of the fun^ for the Lord God giveth them lights 

and they f J all reign for ever and ever, 

4. And as the city fioall thus be bleffed 
with the efTential and immediate prefence of 
the almighty, whofe glory fliall perpetually 
enlighten it, and whofe glad beams of love 
ihall crown it v/ith eternal blefTednefs and joy, 


cf the 1^ A R E S. 157 

with day eternal, v/ith eternal life and peace ; 
fo fhall the delighted inhabitants of this blefied 
city enjoy unfpeakable privileges, fuitable to 
the magnificence of the city and the gran- 
deur of the mighty Lord of it. / heard a 
great 'voice out of bturcen^ fays St. John, fay- 
ing ^ Behold the tahcrnade of God is with meny 
and he ^ivill dwell with them ; and they foall be 
his people^ and God kimfeif fall be with them and 
be their God. This is confummate happinefs : 
this privilege includes all the reft : and be- 
hold the blefled confequences, God, even their 
Godfjalt wipe away all tears from their eyes ; 
and there foall he no more death : the fource of 
all tears, the caufe of all forrow : and as no 
more death, fo no more forrow nor crying^ nei- 
ther fi all there be any more pain: for the former 
things are pafed away. And there fmll be no 
more curfe: but the throne of God and the 
Lamb fall be in it : and his fervants fall ferve 
him. And they floall fee his face ^ and his name 
fall be in their foreheads. So that thofe who 
are found worthy to enter into this glorious 
city, fliall be crowned v/ith immortality ; fin 
the caufe of death (liall utterly be done away ; 
and all the fad confequences of fin fhall ceafe : 
for crowned with immortality they iliall enjoy 
confummate blifs, ftrangers to forrow and 
pain, to anguifh of mind or anguifii of body 


1^8 On /& PARABLE 

they (hall hunger no more, nor thirft any 
more, but fliare uninterrupted peace, and ever- 
lading joy: he that overcometh^ faith Chriji^ 
(hall inherit all things^ and 1 will be his God^ 
and he P: all be my Jon, — Such will be the un- 
fpeakable bleffednefs of thofe who overcome 
through the blood of the Lamb : and oh ! 
how worthy is it of all our patience, all our 
fufferings and all our labours ? whatever of 
high or lovely, of great, glorious or ex- 
cellent there is, in all the monarchies of the 
world, is altogether not a duft of the balance, 
is altogether lefs than nothing, compared to 
the fuperlatively excellent glory which (hall 
cloath thofe children of God, thofe children 
of the kingdom, ^\\o flmll JJiine as the Jim in 
the firmament^ having overcome here below, 
having kept the commandments oj their God, and 
Jo having right to enter in^ through the gates 
into the city I — They (hall be delivered from all 
inward caufe of evil : they fliall be inverted 
with the higheft glories, they fhall fhine as 
the fun, cloathed with the tranfcendently 
fplendid righteoufnefs of their divine Re- 
deemer : and all outward moleftations fhall 
alfo be for ever removed thence : all things 
that offend, and they that do ifiiquity jl.all be ga- 
thered out and fcparated from that perfectly 


of the TARES. 159 

righteous and holy city. The fearful ^ and 
unhelievhig^ thofe who had neither courage nor 
faith to confefs Chriji and fo to overcome, 

end the abominable^ and murderers and whore- 
mongers and all forcer ers, and idolaters^ and all 
liars jhall have their part in the lake that burn- 
eth with fire and brimjlone : which is the fecond 
death. Yea, there fall in no wife enter into 
this city any thing that defileth, neither whatfo- 
ever worketh abomination or maketh a lie^ but 
they which are written in the Lamb's book of 



t There is then zfearfulnefs, fays ^ejnelle^ which alone 
is capable of damning us ; as well as thefe other crimes. 
It is not only that which caufes us to deny the faith, but 
that likev/ife v/hich caufes us to be wanting to important 
and eflential duties through the fear of hurting our for- 
tune, oureafe, ^c. And of creating ourfelves enemies. 
No man has a greater or more heroic foul, than he who 
has a great faith, and who fears nothing but God, and to 
difpleafe him. This is the true generofity. And the true 
cowardice is, not to have the courage to overcome our- 
felves, nor to renounce the love of the creatures through 
the hope of enjoying the creator. 

X rhe abovenientioned excellent author obferves ao-ain 
upon this v. 27. Let us remember, that we entered into this 
holy city only by diverting ourfelves of the old man, and 
cloathing ourfelves with Jeftis Chriji^ and that we have been 
v/afhed in the blood of the Lamb in order to become his 
members. Let us be faithful to the promifes made at bap- 
tifm. Let us endeavour earncjflly to purify ourfelves com- 
pletely by repent:mce, and to deftroy every thing which 
renders us unworthy of God. O Lamb of God, who 
blotCcil out the fins of the whole world, blot out every 


i6o 0/2 /fo P A R A B L E 

God grant, that we may all be found writ- 
ten in that book ! for furely the apprehen- 
fion of being caft, for ever caft out of fo glo- 
rious, fo blelTed a city, — the fight of which, 
and the hearing of the celeftial melody re- 
founding perpetually from its golden dwellings, 
will highly aggravate the tortures of the 
damned, howling in the dark fulphureous 
lake, where light and hope can never come— -' 
Surely, I fay, the apprehenfion, the dread 
hereof, as well as the defire to become citi- 
zens of fo divine a city, will caufe us to ga- 
ther out from ourfelves and our own hearts, 
all things that oflfend, that fo we may over- 
come through Chrijl^ have him for our God, 
and be called — O gracious privilege much to 
be defired — be called HIS SONS for ever 
and ever. 

And to render us wholly without excufe, 
if we will not fepai^ate from all iniquity, and 
do his works now, while it is called to day, 
as well as to encourage us in our fincere de- 
lircs and endeavours after the fruition of this 
new JiTufalem — behold, how be exhorteth 
us, how with infinite love he inviteth us to 

thing which (]i'"pleares thee in me. TVrite thy lav/ forever 
in my heart, that I may be written in the book of eternal 
life : as well as in ihat of the divine adoption which thou 
haft beoun in me by thy grace. 


of the TARES. i6i 

be partakers of this unfpeakable felicity. And 
he faith unto me^ it is done: I am Alpha and Ome- 
ga : the beginning and the endy I will give unto 
him that is athirji of the water of lije freely! 
Blejfed are they that do his commandment s^ that 
they may have a right to the tree of lije^ and may 
enter in thro the gates into the city. And the 
Spirit and the bride fay ^ Come : and let him that 
heareth fay, come : and let him that is athirji^ 
come : and whofoever will, let him take the wa- 
ter of life freely I He that teflifieth thefe thijigs^ 
faith y furely I come quickly, Amen^ evenfoy come 
Lord Jefus, The grace of our Lord Jefus Chrifl 
be with you alL Amen^ 



On the P A R A B L E, 
Of the VEAKh of great Price, 

Matt. xiii. 45 — 46. 

Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a 
merchantman^ feeking goodly pearls ; icho when 
he had found otie pearl of great price, he went 
and fold all that he had and bought it. 

WmiK^EKU we to judge of the gifts of 
^ W ^ Chrijl^ and the bleffings of his 
^ ^ kingdom. from the general condudl 

k,^M^j^ of men in the world, we fhould 
be fo far from efleeming them a Pearl of great 
price, that we fhould fuppofe them the leaft 
valuable oi 2l\\ goodly pear h^ and the merchan- 
dife of them by no means worthy to be com- 
pared with the merchandife of filver and fine 


Of the P E A R L o/^ great Price. 163 
gold. But if we take our eftimate from whence 
we are not likely to be deceived, and are will- 
ing to believe the infallible word of truth, we 
fhall on the contrary find the things of this 
world fo little worthy to be compared with 
the kingdom of heaven, that all its moft 
goodly pearls are but as dimg and drofs to 
that one pearl of great price, the excellency of 
the knowledge of Jejits Chrifl, which is more fre^ 
cious than rubies, and all the things that thou 
canjl defire are not to be compared with it, — To 
(hew us which, our Saviour, in the prefent 
fhort parable, compares it to a pearl of great 
price, for which a wife merchant confcious 
of its worth, and refolved to purchafe it, rea- 
dily parts with all he hath, and gladly gives 
up every other goodly pearl, which he had 
hitherto been feeking, that he might get into 
his poffeffion this one fupereminently precious 
jewel. Whereby we are taught, that the 
kingdom of heaven^ at prefent in grace, here- 
after in glory, will be found of thofe who 
fincerelyy^^/^ for it, fo truly excellent, precious 
and defirable, that they will readily forego 
every earthly good, jell all, deny themfehes, 
fake up their crofs, and foUow^ ihcAX m^H^v, 

* Matt. xvi. o.±. 

M 2 fo 

164 On the PARABLE 

fo be they may but fecure unto themfelves 
falvation, and enter into th^ joy of their Lord-f. 
In this parable, which muft have been pe- 
culiarly acceptable, and fenfibly felt by the 
difciples of our Lord, who really had forlakea 
all and followed him,— Cbriji 

Ift. Compares the kingdom of heaven to a 
pearl of great price ^ wherein the excel- 
lency of this kingdom is fet forth. 

Ildly, He compares the feekers of this 
kingdom to a merchant-man J, feeking 
goodly pearls, wherein we are taught 

f St. yerofn upon the parable fays, bonae margaritae funt 
lex & prophetas. Unum autem ell pretiofiilimum marga- 
ritarum, fcientia falvatoris h facramentum paffionis ejus & 
refurrectionis arcanum. Quod cum invenerit homo nego- 
tiator fimilis Pauli apoftoli, omnia legis, prophetarumque, 
myfteria & obfervationes priflinas in quibus inculpate vixerat 
quafi purgamenta contemnit & quifquilias, ut Chiiftum 

:|: Juft before this he delivered another to the fame 
purport concerning trcafure hid in a field : " The parable 
oF a treafurc which a man found hidden in a field, fays 
Mackn'ight^ was defigncd to teach us that fome meet with 
the gofpel as it v^^tq by accident, and without feeking it, 
agreeably to what the prophet Ifa'iah fays chap. Ixv, i. 
That God is found of them that feek him nor. On the 
other hand the parable of the merchant feeking goodly 
pearls, informs us, that mens receiving the gofpel is of- 
tentimes the effe£t of a diligent fearch after truth.'' Grot'im 
makes exa6lly the fame obfervation ; and adds, that as 
the MeiTiah was found by many who fought him not, 
fo many at the time of his coming were feeking for and 
earneftly expecling him among the Jews, — Melfiam avi- 
dis aalmis exfpeCtabant. See the author. 


of the PEARL of great Price. 165 
the diligence and application neceffary to 
find falvation. And 
Illdly, He informs us of the qualifications 
and difpofitionsof mind which are necef- 
fary to render us partakers of this falva- 
tion, under the image of the merchant's 
felling all that he had and buying this pearl. 

I propofe to fpeak of thefe three things — Of 
the excellency of Chrijl and his grace — Of 
the duty oi fee king him — And of the neceflity 
oi felling all to buy or obtain him : which done, 
I will conclude with fome general remarks. 

Ift. Then I am to fpeak of the excel- 
lency of Chrijl, his grace and glory as made 
known by and offered to us iii the gofpeL This 
is reprefented to us under the image of a 
Pearl of great price : which it is probable 
our Saviour the rather ufed, as the mer- 
chandife of pearls was very common amongft 
the Jews, and they were efteemed the moft 
valuable part of merchandifej. Naturalifts 
tell us, that pearls are formed in a wonderful 
manner, in thofe fhell-fifh wherein they are 
found: (whence xhQ /hell \s^ called the another 
of pearl). At a certain feafon § of the year, 

M3 fay 

+ So Grotius. Notum Judaeis mercimonium mam 
rubri vicinitate. Principium, inquit Plinius, culmenque om- 
nium rerum pretii margaritae teneiit. 

§ This account of the matter and fpiritual application 
we have in many of the fathers — JheophyhiJ, from Chry- 


i66 0/? //j6' P A R A B L E 

fay they, thele (hell-fifh open themfelves and 
take in a certain moifl: dew, after which they 
are as it were impregnated, until they pro- 
duce the pearl: fo that they have, as it feems, 
their birth from heaven. And in this parti- 
cular, feme writers on the prefent parable, 
have fuppofed a parallel between Chrift m his 
marvellous birth from heaven and the pearl. 
And this parallel they carry much farther : 
fince the great price of pearls — the hidden 
and medicinal virtues in them- — their orient 
brightnefs and beauty, have all been applied to 
the riches of Chrijfs grace, his hidden virtues, 
and healing influence on the foul — the greatnefs 
of his glory, and the tranfcendent beauty and 
excellency of his perfon. — Be this, as it may, 
the facred fcriptures frequently ufe this image 
for that wifdoniy which is from above, and fo 
for him, in whom are hid all the treajures of 
wijdom : a paifage or two from Jol^, and from 
the Prcverhy (to the latter of which it is more 
than probable our Saviour in this parable re- 
fers) may fuffice. And by the way we may 

fojlom obferves, <ciaXct(7c-ot, o 'taoi^m /3Kg>-, 7'he fea 

is an emblem of the prefent iife. Chriji is the one preci- 
ous pearl. Then he gives an account nearly fimilar to 
that in ihe text — fee the author — Chemnitz gives the fame 
account and carries on the comparifon, as obferved above, 
which is very much enlarged by Keach^ who hath applied 
•thc/'ftfr/ ^c. in every minute particular to Chriji. 


of the VE KKl^ of great Price. 167 

obferve, that it is no wonder pearls were fo 
well known to Job and the Hebrews, fince the 
fineft pearls are found in the Perfian gulph, 
and upon a coaft near the borders of Arabia^ 
from whence Idiimcea and Paleftine are not far 
diftant. In the firft, Job xxviii. 12, we 
read, but where fiall wifdo?72 be found, and 
where is the place of under ft anding ? man know- 
eth not the price thereof-, neither is it found in 
the land of the liviitg, "The depth faith , it is 7iot 
in vie : and the fea faith, it is not with me. It 
cannot be gotten for geld, neither jloall fiver be 
weighed for the price thereof It cannot be valued 
with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx^ 
or the fapphire. The gold and the cryflal can-' 
f7ot equal it : and the exchange of it Jhail not be 
for jewels of fine gold I f70 mention fioall be made 
of coral or pearls, for the price of wifdom is 
above rubies, T^he topaz of Ethiopia fhall not 
equal it, neither fi:)all it be valued with pure 
gold, — Similar to which is what we read Pro- 
verbs, iii. 13. Happy is the man that findeth 
wfdom, and the ?nan that getteth underfianding: 
for the merchandife of it is better than the mer- 
cbandfe of fiver, and the gain thereof than fine 
gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all 
the things thou canfi defre are not to be compared 
unto her : length of days is in her right ha?id, 
and in her left hand riches and honour : her 
M 4 ways 

i68 On fhe PARABLE 

ways are ways of pleafantnefs^ and all her paths 
are peace. She is a tree of Life to them that 
lay hold of her ^ andhvppy is every one that retain- 
eth her. And again Chap, viii Ver, 1 1 Wifdom 
is better than rubies, and all the things^ that may 
be de fired are not to be compared to it. Riches and 
honour are with her^ yea durable riches and 
righteoufhefs. Thro* this whole eighth chapter 
you have the nioft fublime and elevated de- 
Icription of Chriji, the true wifdom, his excel- 
lency and eternity, which I could wi{h you 
ferioufly to read and carefully to remember. 

Such is that divine wijdom^ which is in 
Chriji^ and is his gift to men -, the excel- 
lencies of whereof are thus fet forth in the 
moft ftrong and beautiful terms: and which we 
fliall beft and moll diftindly difcern if we 
confider briefly the divine author of this wif- 
dom, — its tranfcendent fuperiority over all the 
things of this life — the prefent peace and 
happinefs it beftows — and above all the 
future happinefs in an everlafting life of glor 

The excellencies of the divine author and 
giver of this wifdom^ our moft bleffed Lord 
and Saviour ffus Chrift, are very manifeft 
from the greatnefs of his peifon, and the great- 
nefs of his work. For he is not only a man, 
but the moft high God— God and man in one 


cf the V^k^lu of great VvLiCE. 169 
perfdn, being the unchangeable JEHOVAH 
from all eternity, God hlejjed for ever^ the 
great and only potentate^ the King of Kings and 
Lord of Lords, omnipotent, omnifcient, om- 
niprefent : who being in the form of Gody 
very God of very God, of one fubftance 
with the Father, thought it no robbery to be 
equal with God : but made himfelf of no re-r 
put at i on y took upon him the form of a fer'^caiity 
and being found infafl:ion as a man, he humbled 
himfelf and became obedient imto death, even the 
death of the crofs! — * And the work, for which 
this great and glorious /'rr/J;^ fo humbled him- 
lelf, was no lefs great and glorious : it was for 
the redemption of a world, which none but he 
could redeem, who at firft created it, who at 
firft made it and all things \\: and which he 
redeemed by a method fo ftupendous, as no 
lefs difplay'd the greatnefs of the work and the 
greatnefs of his /'e'?y{j;/, than the greatnefs, the 
unfpeakable greatnefs of his love to fallen 
man I 

Needs then moft that wifdom be excellent, 
and that grace defireable which fo adorable a 
perfon himfelf procured and brought down 

* Sde Bp. ^«//'s Defenfio fide't Niccence — .which mofl 
iifeful and incomparable work for the benefit of the Englijh 
reader is tranflated by Hollandy 2 vol. 8vo. 

II John i. 3. 


I70 On the PARABLE 

from heaven, and for which his boundlefs 
love vi^rought fuch a work, and paid fo im- 
menfe a price! and compare it With all the 
things of this Hfe, then you will foon difcern 
its evident fuperiority, then you will find, that 
its price is indeed above rubies, and that all the 
things that nlay be defired are not to be com- 
pared with it. Richesy pleafures^ honours^ the 
three great idols of mankind, the Baals to 
which fo many thoufands bov/ the knee, are 
poor when plac'd in competition with this 
heavenly wifdom. Riches make themfelves 
wings and flyaway - how foolifli then to fet our 
hearts upon that which is rwt^'? Pleafures cloy 
and grow infipid: our very appetites forfake 
us, and four difappointment corrodes the an- 
xious heart : Honours the very bubbles of po- 
pular breath, to day are given, and to mor- 
row as capricioufly denied : and when poflefTed 
they can neither remove anxiety of heart or 
pain of body, nor cure the tympany of pride 
or jaundice of envy ; which like pale fiends, 
ftill tread hard on the fteps of ambition; and 
plume themfelves in the fplendor of earthly 
honours. — But let the grace of God and the 
wifdom from above polTefs the happy heart, 
and thefe corrofives all are healed, thefe burn- 

* Piov. xxiii. 5, 


of tbeP EARL of great Price. 171 
ings all are cooled : peace, peace unfpeakabie 
ferenes the foul, and happinefs founded on a 
rock, defpifes the roaring of the waves below, 
and jftands unfhaken amidft every earthly tri- 
al. Her ways are ways of pleafantnefs^ fays, 
Solomon^ and all her paths are peace. No 
longer a flave to the ever increafing and never 
fatisfied defire oi wealthy flie learns her happy 
followers to be content in every ftate, and 
with chearful refignation fubmit to the good 
will of their heavenly Father : no longer an- 
xious in the purfuit after worldly pie q/hres, (lie 
leads her followers to a new fcene of happi- 
nefs, and teaches them to find confummate 
felicity, in the love and contemplation of him, 
at whofe right hand therg, are pleafures for 
evermore : no longer ambitious of the honours 
which mortality beftows, flie holds forth to all 
her children a crown of glory, vt^hich engag- 
eth all their hearts, and caufeth them fo run 
with patience and v^ith joy the race that is fet 
before them, — Thefe are fome of the gifts 
which that divine wifdom gives to thofe into 
whofe heart flie hath entered, whereto flie 
hath id\A peace ^ from which flie hath remov'd 
the guilt, the fear, the punifliment of fin, 
by leading them to that divine peace-maker^ 
thro' faith in whom we have peace with God I — 
Happy they who live beneath the influence 


172 On the PARABLE 

of this heavenly vvifdom : — pardoned, recon- 
cird, adopted : content like good and obedient 
children with all their wife Father's difpofals ; 
bleffed, abundantly blefftd in the fweet con- 
templation of his infinitely gracious love, and 
ever afpiring in ardent defire and with holy 
ambition to enter into his glorious courts, and 
to reign with him for ever and ever ! 

And herein more efpecially the excellency 
of this precious pccvl is difcovered : the king- 
dom of grace is not only excellent on account 
of the divine author of it, God and man in 
one perfon : it is not only excellent on ac- 
count of its tranfcendant fuperiority over all 
the things of this world, which are but mere 
unfatisfying vapours : it is not only excellent 
on account of the prefent peace and happiaefs 
which it beftows: but it is excellent, fuper- 
latively excellent on account of that future 
unending life of inconceivable glory, fecured 
for all thofe, who enter into the kingdom of 
grace here, who are redeemed by Cbrift and 
favoured with the earned of love. This en- 
hances far beyond all eftimation the value of 
this pearl of great price : but of this future 
glory, I fpoke at large in the laft difcourfe : 
we may add, eye hath not feen^ nor ear heard , 
neither hath it entered into the heart of man to 
conceive the things which God hath prepared for 


cf the? E AKL of great Price. 173 
them that love him. Thefe are fure and certain 
to fuch, as are already by grace adopted into 
the family of God, who have fought and 
found, fold all and bought the pearl, and fo are 
become children of the kingdom. And were 
not eternity fecured, the pofTeffion of all the 
fine gold, pearls and rubies beneath the fun, 
would be of no more confequence to us, than 
the poffeffion of fo much duft and fo many 
pebbles, when we come to die. — As therefore 
this alone is the one thing certain in this un- 
certain Ufe, that we muft die, and after death 
be judged ; let us be careful to fecure to our- 
felves this pearl of great price, the kingdom 
of heaven, the excellencies of which if we 
would but duly weigh, and rightly confider, 
we fliould think no fatigue too great, no 
diligence and application too unwearied that 
we might find and obtain it : which naturally 
leads me to the 

lid thing propofed, namely, The duty of 
feeking the kingdom of heaveriy or gofpel fal- 
vation, reprefented to us in this parable by 
the merchant's /^^^/;7^ goodly pearls. 

Oh how will thefe merchants of the earth, 
condemn the fpiritual merchants : how will 
their conduct fadly convidt, at that day, the 
condudl of but too many profefl!ors of Chrijl\ 
gofpel ! Let its be wife in time and prevent 
that judgment by judging ourfelves now, and 


174 On the PARABLE 

efcape that condemnation by learning wifdom 
from them,--- — See how induftrioufly they 
pafs from clime to clime *: explore new regi- 
ons and fubjed: themfelves to all the Incle- 
mencies of varying feafons : fee how they 
trufl themfelves and their fubftance, in a frail 
bottom of boards, to the mercy of contending 
elements — winds and waves ! and all this to 
what end — to get a livelihood, to raife a 
fortune, to amafs much wealth, and then fet 
down quiet and eafy at the noon of life ! and 
yet all thefe perils, thus undergone, and 
for this end, they are by no means certain, 
that they fhall attain the end defired: a thou- 
fand and ten thoufand evils ftand in the 

* Horace in his firft epiftle B. i. v. 45, defcribes the 
anxious merchant beautifully. 

Impiger extremes curris mercator ad Indos, 
Per mare pauperiem fugiens, perfaxa, per ignes: 
Ne cures ea quas ftulte miraris & optas, 
Difcere & audire & meliori credere non vis ? 

To diftant climes, that burn with other funs. 
Thro' fcas and rocks the undaunted merchant runs 
In fearch of wealth — yet heedlefs to attend 
To the calm le£lures of fome wifer friend : 
VvHio bids him fcorn what now he moft dcfires. 
And with an idiot's ignorance admires. 


Even the darkeft Heathens could fee the poverty, the 
vanity, the folly of a wild love of the world, and its tran- 
fitory gifts I What cm excufe us in this broad day light if 
we love the world and the things of the worlds and fo have 
not theUvcofthe Father in us ! 


of the P E A R L ij/ great Price. 175 
way : here are ftoniis ready to devour them: 
there are rocks ready to fplit the foundering 
veffel ; here are enemies lying in wait to de- 
ftroy:one leak may in a moment plunge their 
vefiel, themfelves and all their hopes, in the 
bottomlels deep:— And fliould they fecure 
the goodly pearls, the merchandife they have 
fought with fo much peril and labour, yet ere 
the day of enjoyment comes, when they think 
to reap the fair reward of all*, in the midft 
of all their hopes, death gives the fatal fting, 
and the foul ruflies unprepared to meet its 
God. — Or fhould not this be the cafe, fhould 
they enjoy the utmofl of their wiflies, and 
live to hoar age in the full fruition of all they 
have acquired, yet death, that neceffary evil, 
will come at lafl j and after death a day of 
trial will fucceed, when all they have pro- 
cur'd, and all they have enjoy 'd here below, 
will ftand them in no ftead, nor arreft one 
moment the irrevocable fentence. 

And fhall not all their labour, all their 
perils, in fearch of an uncertain, earthly, tran- 
fitory good^ forely condemn us, if we will not 
learn, from them, to feek with induftrious 

f Thus Milton m his fine poem o^ Lyctdas, 

B 't the fair Guerdon, when we hope to find 
And think to burft out into luddc-n blaze. 
Comes the blind fury with the abhorred Hieers, 
And flits the thin fpun lile. 


176 On de ? ARAB L"^ 

care and zeal after that pearl of great price, 
which, like the merchant*s treafure, can ne- 
ver fail us, which is ever certain to them that 
feek it, which will well repay our toils, and 
never difappoint our hopes. We trade for the 
beft of merchandife, all the riches of the world 
are not to be compared with it : our gain is 
fure, no lofs can ever harm us : nothing can 
deprive us of it: and we have no perils or 
dangers to undergo in any refped: equal to the 
merchant of this world ^ and our gain is eter- 
nal, whatever we may fufFer to procure it 
here, eternity is long enough to reward us^ 
Who would not be merchants upon fuch 
conditions asthefe? — affured that they {hould 
stttain the riches they carefully fought for, 
yea and much more than they could expedt ; 
that nothing fhould deprive them of thefe 
riches, and that they fhould ferve to their 
future and moft confummate happinefs ? — Yet 
even upon thefe terms men can fcarcely be 
perfuaded to venture upon the fearch after 
heavenly things : they can fcarcely be per- 
fuaded to believe and hope in a God of truth, 
tho' they Y\v thy faith and hope ^ faith in (hips, 
in feas and men — hope in perifhing, fallible 
goods : they can fcarcely be perfuaded to ven- 
ture, tho' they are infallibly affiircd that if they 
U'/Z/feek, they yZW/ find: tho' they are infaU 


of the'PE KKh of great Price. 177 

llbly affured, that what they {hall find is well 
worth their feeking, — even a pearl of great 
price, which will not only enrich them here 
but eternally : tho' fully afTured hereof, even 
by the mouth of God himfelf, we ftill find 
them more ready to commit themfelves 
to k plank and an ocean than to trufl in the 
promifes of the living God : more ready to 
hope for happinefs from tranfitory pofTeflions, 
than from the pofTefTion of the future glory ! 

And indeed were there as much danger in 
feeking the one as the other, as many perils 
by fea and by land for the merchant in fpiri- 
tual as for the merchant in temporal things : 
it would be lefs furprifing that the things 
which are jeen fhould overbalance the thin^-s 
which are net feen : and, God knows, fuch 
very treacherous hearts have we, and {q very 
little love for his unfpeakable goodnefs, that 
if fuch and fo great difficulties and perils at- 
tended the fearch after the things of heaven, 
as after the things of earth, I fear there would 
be then, much fewer feekers than there are 
even now. — But blefTed be his name the 
fearch is not fo difficult, nay it is jo very eafy^ 
that this again greatly enhances the wonder, 
why fo few feek, and will mightily enhance 
our condemnation, if we do not feek. ne 
depth faith ^ it is not in vie^ and the fea faiths 
N it 

178 On the PARABLE 

it is not in me. We have no need to fay, ischo 
Jhall afcencl into heaven, that is to bring Cbrijl 
down : or who fhall defcend ijito the deep^ that 
it to bring up Chrifi again from the dead: But 
the word is 7iigh us, e'-cen in our mouth and in 
cur heart : that is the word which we preach : 
In this word the precious pearl is to be fought : 
and that by {inceve Jaith : for if thouJJjall con- 
fefs with thy mouth the Lord Jefus, continues 
St. Paul, and pj ail believe in thine hearty that 
God hath raifed him Jrom the deady thou fkalt 
befavedy thou fliall gain the pearl of great 
price. For with the heart ma?i believeth unto 
right eoufnefsy and with the mouth confef/ion is made 
unto falvation *. This is to be fought in the 
word in general, and in all the exercifes of 
it in particular, as hearmg^ readings meditating: 
he is to be fought in all the means of grace, 
by a folemn renewal of our baptifmal cove- 
rant, and by a folemn and ferious partici- 
pation of the Lord's fupper, where if a man 
doth not feek him, I know not how he can 
hope to find him at all, I know not how h© 
can properly be called a chriftian, who refufes 
obedience to his Lord's lafl dying pofitive com- 
mand, the memorial of his love, the feal of 

* See Rom. x. 10, ^t.Chryfoftom*s Incomparable commen- 
tary on this epiftle, which we can never ftudy too much — ■ 
^nd on this verfe in particular. 


of the PEARL of great Price. \']() 
his everlafting covenant, the reprefentation of 
his all'fufficient facrifice, and the fource of 
new and fpiritual Hfe.— -And as in the facra- 
ments the grand means of grace, fo by fer- 
vent /^r^^'^r muft we diligently feek for him, 
who hath aflured us, that fo feeking we (hail 
find,/^^^ a72dye fldalljind : ajk and ye fi:allhave: 
hiocky and {tJJ:ailbe opened unto you *. Ihve them 
that love me^ faith he, and they that feek me 
early Jhallfind me -f*. 'Tis good to feek him 
early ; early in the day of youth, early in life: 
" a flower when oflfered in the bud, is no vain 
facrifice*' early in the defires of the heart, be- 
fore all other things : and early upon every 
affliction and trouble which he throws upon 
- us ; Yis good to fly to and acknowledge God 
in the very beginning of them: and if we 
were to add, early in the morning every day, 
we fhould but add a neceffary duty : the bride 
in the Canticles advifes, let iis get up early to 
the vineyards: and "David declares, as for me 
Iwillfng of thy power ^ and will prafe thy mer^ 
cy betimes in the morning : for thou haft been 
my defence and refuge in the time of my trouble. 
Thus muft we feek for the kingdom of God : 
by a due attendance upon all the means, and 
particularly by fearching the word with faith 

* Matt. vii. 7. 
•f Prov. viii. 17. 

N 2 and 

i8o On //^^ P A R A B L E 

and prayer, and that with all diligence, perfc- 
verance, and full purpofe to Jeli all when we 
find this pearl of great price, as convinced of 
its tranfcendent excellency and our own great 
need of it. 

And when we confider what it is that we 
have to 7^//, we fliall gladly futFer the lofs of 
^11 thofe things, and count them but dung that 
we may wm Chrift, which is the 

Hid and laft particular, whereto the para- 
ble refers us ; the merchant having at length 
found one pearl of great price, fold all that he 
bad and bought it. 

As a key to which, St. Paulas words and 
conduft may be quoted from the third chap- 
ter to the Philippians, If any other man think^ 
eth he hath whereof he might trujl in thefiejhy 
faith he, 7 have more, Circumcifed the eighth 
day^ of the jiock of Ifrael, of the tribe g/^Benja- 
min, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, a^ touching 
the laWy a Pharifee : concerning zeal perfe- 
cuting the church ; touching the righteoufnefi 
which is in the law blame lefs, — But what things, 
were gain to me^ thofe I counted lofs for Chrift^ 
yeay doubtlefs^ and 1 count all things but lofs, for 
the excellency of the k?20w ledge of Chrift Jefus 
my Lord j for whom 1 have fuffered the lofs of 
all things :. and do count them but dungy that 1 


'of the PEARL of great Price. i8i 
may win Chrift, and be found in him^ not having 
mine own right eoufnefs^ which is of the law^ but 
that which is through the faith <?/Chrift, the 

rightcoujhefs which is of God by faith So 

that you fee %i,Paul fold all his legal righteouf- 
nefs, all thofe things wherein he before trufted : 
be fold all felf-merit, all dependance upon any 
works of his own, all his former privileges, and 
gladly parted with them that he might pur- 
chafe, buy, gain xepJvi^w, or win Chriji, So 
muft we fell all felf-righteoufnefs, difclaim 
all felf-merit, and give to Chrift alone the ho- 
nour of our falvation. And as we muft Jell 
^11 felf-righteoufnefs, all thofe goodly pearls 
which we fought and admired before for the 
purchafe of this precious pearl. — So muft we 
fell all our former evil doings, all fin, with its 
filthy works and abominable luftsj we muft 
follow that great command of Chrift, deny our- 
felves, our finful, fallen, miferable felves, take 
up our crofs daily, daily mortify the old man 
with all his afiedtions and lufts, and follow 
Chrifl, follow his blefled example, conform 
ourfelves to his divine pattern and precepts. 
Nor is this all, we muft not only fell all felf- 
confidence, and depend on Chriji alone for 
falvation, we muft not only fell all fin and 
luft; but we xnu9i fell all that we have, our own 
lives, and all things moft dear and near to 
N 3 us, 

i82 On the V ARABLE 

us, that is, we mufl diftrlbute liberally to the 
relief of our brethren, according to our abi- 
lity, and ftand in readinefs to part with all 
we are and all we have, whenever Chriji calls 
either by death or perfecution; willing to give 
up friends, wealth, and life, rather than lofe 
him, who hath told us, that imlefs we forfake 
at all times in difpofition^ and in reality when 
he commands — father and mother and wife 
and hinds ^ yea and our own life alfo^ jor his fake 
andthegofpel^we cannot be his dijciples. And who 
hath promifed, that there is no man that leaves 
houfe y or parent Sy or brethren y or %vife or children 
for the kingdom of God' s Jake ^ who fall not receive 
manifold more in this prefent time [through 
peace ofconfcience and joy in the Holy Ghoft] 
and in the world to come life everlafting. 

Thus muft we fell all to obtain, to buy or 
gain ihQ kingdom of heaven: to win Chr/fy 
as St. Paul expreffes it : and this very felli?2g 
of all is the whole purchafe money we have 
to give. For we can buy no otherwife than 
by felling thus : we can gain Chri/i no other- 
wife than by parting with all things contrary 
to his crofs and love. We have no good 
worlcs, nothing to offer, nothing to prefent 
unto him, fince every good and every perfedl 
gift flows from his free grace and bounty to us, 
Day, is the confequence of our obtaining this 


of the PEARL of great Price. 183 
■precious pearl : before we poffefs which, we 
have nothing but the tattered rags of our own 
ricrhteoufnels at beft, and many, very many 
evil works to fell and give in exchange for the 
right eon fnefs winch is oj God by faith, Kence when 
the prophet exhorts to come and buy, he adds 
fuch conditions as well fuit fuch poor bank- 
rupt finners : Ho, every one that thirjieth, faith 
he, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no 
money : come ye, buy and eat^ yea come, buy wine 
and milky without 7mney and price. Agreeable 
to which, Chrift promifes in the Revelation, I 
will give unto hi ?n that is athirfl, of the water 
of life FREELT: and again, let him that is 
sthirjl^ come : and whofoever will let him take 
of the water of life FREELT. 

Thus muft we/^/i all to buy this pearl of 
great price : immediately and without referve 
we muft fell all our fins, all our felf-righte- 
oufnefs, felf-love 2nd felf- confidence; and all 
that we have we muft fo fell, as to be ready 
to part with them upon every call of the great 
mafter— father, mother, wife, children, lands, 
yea and our own lifealfo. Upon thefe terms he 
will freely give us the riches of his unfpeakable 
grace, adopt us into the family of God, and 
crown us with a right to the eternal kingdom. 
And who would not gladly make fuch an 
exchange, who would not gladly fell all that 

N 4 they 

i84 Onrthe V ARABLE. 

they have, all that fin, the world and Satart 
can beftow to obtain (o precious a pearl, whofe 
tranfcendant excellencies words cannot ex- 
prefs, heart cannot conceive. 

Thus then I have {hewn you the excel- 
lencies of the kingdom of heave?!, of Chriji, 
the purchafer and giver of it, of that prefent 
peace which is the beginning and earneft of 
it, and of that future glory which is the blifs- 
ful confummation of it. And as the know- 
ledge hereof furely cannot fail to infpire us 
all with a defire to obtain this kingdom, I 
have next (hewn you where and how it is 
to be fiught, and urged fome lively motives 
to the feeking of it from the pradice of earthly 
merchants, whofe diligence, afliduity and ap- 
plication, are excellent leflbns to aroufe and 
inftru6l the fpiritual merchants, the feekers 
after this pearl of great price - And then when 
jeeking and finding it, we might not be difap- 
pointed through ignorance of its price, I have 
fliewn in the laft place what muft be given 
in exchange for it, and what you muft necef- 
farily fell, that you may be able to purchafe 
this rich ineftimable jewel. I will conclude 
with fome general obfervations. 

There have been in the golden days of 
chriftianity, thofe who have counted with St. 
Faiil all things but dung, for the excellency 


of the ?E hKh of great V^ict. 185 

of the knowledge of Jcfus Chrifi, There have 
been who have xt^XXy fold ally and laid it at 
the apoftles feet : there have been who have 
not counted their own lives dear, but gladly 
refigned them amidft flames and racks and 
tortures to win the riches of a Redeemer's 
love.— But now, alas! though the pearl is no 
way diminifhed in price, though Chrift is 
equally lovely, equally excellent, the faireft 
amongft ten thoufand, to day, yefterday, and 
for ever the fame : though gofpel privileges 
are by no means abridged, but pardon, peace 
and joy continue ftill the proffered bleflings 
to believing hearts 5 though heaven ilill invites 
with joys unfpeakable, and pleafures for ever- 
more : yet alas, tho* thefe remain the fame, 
though the pearl is no way diminiflied in 
worth, how much is its price fallen ! how 
low is it in the general eftimation, of how 
little value — If we may guefs from mens en- 
deavours to buy it, if we may guefs from the 
low exchange they are willing to make for it ? 
for where is that felf-denial, that felf-abafe- 
ment — where is that holy love and ardent 
zeal, where is that fpirit of facrifice and re- 
fignation, which fo eminently diftinguiflied 
the firft, and which are fo necelTary charac- 
teriftics of all true chrifl:ians, of all fincere 
feekers after the kingdom of heaven! inftead 


i86 0;2 //j^ P A R A B L E 

of an objedlion of all felf-merit and righteouf- 
ncfs, inftead of counting all things but dung 
for ChrtJ}^ men dare to fet up their own 
poor, paltry doings, and imagine fomewhat in 
their tattered, filthy deeds, more excellent 
and efficacious to procure life eternal, than in 
the everlaitinir riphteoufnefs of the immacu- 

o o 

late Iamb of God ! — ^Hence many profeffedly 
in words, nay, and from the prefs itfelf, de- 
lirous to perpetuate theiry?;/ and their reproach, 
and more alas, in deeds openly oppofe the 
wifdom from above j declare themfelves wifer 
than God, difbelieve a revelation confirmed 
by mn\ivnQV2b\Q prophecies and miracles and doc^ 
trhieSy fuch as never man taught : and dif- 
claiming juftly the name of chriftians would 
be called deifis, fjjoralifts, free-thinkers^ or any 
other name whatever, rather than the difci- 
pl'es of a crucified, felf denying mafter ! thefe 
men having no value for, no true knowledge 
of the worth of the pearl, will never fell any 
thing to gain it; yet let them be told, how 
rich foever they may efteem themfelves in 
the fight of the great God who is to judge 
them, they are but poor, bankrupt finners, 
wretched and 7niferabh\ and blind and naked. 
And the beft method they can purfue, is 
to take the counfel of that 76'/2<fi whom they 
perfecute and whom they defpife, and who yet 


of the PEARL of great Price, i 87 
advifes them well, to buy of him gold tried in the 
Jire^ that they may be rich^ arid white raiment that 
they may be cloathed, and that the Jkame of their 
nakednefs do not appear: and to anoint their eyes 
feaPd up in the darknefs of fin with eye-falve 
that they mav fee. 

Did the chriftians in days of old fell all that 
they had, and thus provide for themfehes bags 
that wax not old, a treafure in the heavens 
that faileth not, where rto thief approacheth, 
neither moth corrupteth ?• — Muft they not 
then have feen fome tranfcendant excellencies 
in this fame precious pearl, — fuperior, far fu- 
perior to all that we can now difcern? fince 
fo far from felling the hearts of chriftians are 
bent on getti?jg: fo far from parting with ally 
they are with difficulty to be perfuaded to 
part with a little pittance for the relief of 
their fuffering brethren: fince fo far from 
felling, and laying up treafures in heaven, the 
one fingle view of the far greater part of man- 
kind feems to be how they may lay up trea- 
fures on earth, add field to field, and call the 
lands after their own names. Nay, and may we 
not too truly fay with Mantuan, caelum ejl vena^ 
le deufque I — Oh how doth this fame worldly 
fpirit, how ill doth it become thofe who pro- 
fefs themfelves heirs of heaven, members of 
Chrijly and children of the moft high God ! 


l88 O/^ /y&^ P A R A B L E 

Did the firft chriftians gladly, nay rejoic- 
ingly give up their lives as well as their pof- 
feflions and righteoufnefs for the fake of Chrift, 
courting martyrdom, and in love with the 
flames, that united them forever to their God? 
How will they rife up againfl the men of this 
generation and condemn it ! How will they 
rife up againft thofe, who fo far from giving 
up their lives for Chrifl^ give them up wholly 
to the fervice of fin and fatan : who live in the 
delicate pampering and voluptuoufnefa, che- 
rifhing of the body, as if it were the better 
part, and the poor foul only form'd to live in 
a prifon and be its flave! who live in an un- 
thinking round of pleafures, and fo are dead 
while tbey Iroe^ and are more ready to attend 
a ball, an aflembly or play, even after a facra- 
ment! fliame to think of it ! — than to pay to 
the God of glory the holy honours due unto 
his name: who live not only in luxury and 
pleafure, but in the pradice of filthy lufts, and 
make their bodies, which were defign'd to be 
temples of the holy ghoft, members of har- 
lots, inftruments of lafclvioufnefs, drunken- 
nefs, blafphemy, and other vile abominations — 
Tell it not in Gat by piibliflj it not iji the Jlreets of 
AJkelon, that fuch, many fuch there are, fo- 
kmnly dedicated to the holy trinity in bap- 
tifm, — mark'd with the crofs of a crucified 


of the PEARL of great Price. 189 

Saviour — wafli*d in the laver of regeneration! 
oh think, in the name and for the fake of 
Chriji, if you dread future judgment, if you 
have any apprehenfion of approaching eter- 
nity, into v/hich perhaps next moment you 
may launch — think I befeech you how high- 
ly aggravated offences muft be in thofe, v^^ho 
have thus been baptifed into Chriji, who have 
been folemnly dedicated to his name and fer- 
vice! confider, that on this account you are 
not your own, but the Lord Jefus Chrifi'% who 
hath bought you with a price, who died for 
ali, that they which live ihould not hence- 
forth live unto themfelves, but unto him, 
which died for them and rofe again. And 
therefore fince you are his property, who thus 
died for, thus bought you : grieve him not, 
offend him not, ruin not your own fouls, ag- 
gravate not your future condemnation ; but 
now while it is called to day, feek him, ferve 
and honour him — glorify God in your body and 
in yourfpirit which are God's. 

Aw'd and awakened by the danger of neg- 
lefting fo great falvation: confcious of our 
neceffity of an atoning facrifice : ftruck with 
the bright excellencies of Chri/l and his grace, 
let us, my brethren, feek for this wifdonty as 
for goodly pearls, and dig for it, as for hid 
treafures: then f:all we underjland the fear of 


190 0;; /.5^ P A R A B L E 

the Lordy and find the knowledge of God! f of 
heboid the fear of the Lord, that is ivifdoniy and 
to depart from evil^ that is underfianding. Let 
us but feek in fincerity, feek in the word, in 
the facraments, in prayer, early, diligently, and 
with hearts athirft for God : and we (hall foon 
find to the comfort and refrefhment of our 
fouls. We fhall foon find that the gofpel 
bringeth mdtti glad tidings, and that he, who 
hath the fon hath life, hath pardon, hath 
peace, hath all things neceflary for him here, 
and the glorious earneft and bleft afliirance of 
eternal life hereafter. For what reft is to the 
weary, what bread is to the hungry, what 
cloathing is to the naked, what fight to the 
blind, what liberty to the captive, what peace 
of mind to the troubled in heart and confci- 
ence, what pardon to a condemned crimi- 
nal, what eafe and perfeft care to a man in 
intolerable pain and anguifh : and in a word, 
what it is to be perfedly delivered from what- 
foever is evil, either in this world or in that 
which is to come : fuch, and all thefe things, 
yea and much more is the blefled Lord Jefus 
to all that feek and find him: whatfoever 
is truly, really and fpiritually good, all this he 
hath to beftow: fo that with juftice it may 
be faid of him, all the things, that thou canfi 
defire are not to be compared with him : he is the 


of the PEARL of great Price. 191 
free of life to them that lay hold of him, and 
happy is every one that rctaineth him. Length 
of days, even eternity, is in his right hand : 
and in his Itft hand riches, incorruptible riches, 
and unchangeable honour. 

And v/hen you know that he has a cure 
for every wound, balm for every fore, and 
confolation for every grief, that he wipes 
away all tears from all eyes, enriches, blelTes, 
immortalizes 5 need I — fliould I trefpafs fo 
much upon your judgment, as to perfuade, 
as to exhort you to fell all, that you may hiy 
this pearl, to fell all that you may win Chri/i, 
and be found in him, not having your own 
righteoufnefs, but that which is in the faith 
of Chriji, the righteoufnefs which is of God 
by faith? — Nothing we have or can have 
deferves to be put in competition with him : 
our own righteoufnefs, will we be but impar- 
tial, is as a filthy rag : our fins are great, 
many and aggravated : how then can we ftand 
before the pure and holy God, who difcerns 
impcrfedlion and impurity even in the higheft 
angels ? Had we the fandlity and patience of 
a Job, the zeal of a Paul, or the charity of a 
Cornelius, it would be neceffary for us to abhor 
ourfelves, as they did, to repeat in dufi and 
afhes before God, and to difclaim all felf deferv- 
ing, and felf-efteem at the foot of an atoning 


192 On the? ARABLE 
Saviour *s crofs. And furely *tis no hard bargain 
to part with that which will certainly con- 
demn us, that we may receive in exchange 
as a free gift a precious righteoufnefs, which 
will never fail us. 

And as to our earthly poffeffwis, can we be 
unwilling to part with any of them to refrefli 
the bowels of our fuffering brethren ? to feed 
the hungry, cloath the naked, relieve the 
fick and afflicted, and that more efpecially in 
this feafon oi fear city and diftrejsy when the 
poor calleth fo pathetically, when hunger plead- 
eth fo preffingly, when mifery in every form 
fo loudly demandeth a relief and fupply? O 
to how good ufe may we now through Chrift 
employ that abundance, and thofe treafures 
he hath blefled us with ! but if we employ 
them not thus, let us remember, that hoard 
we them up never fo carefully, feek we them 
never fo unweariedly, the day will come when 
though they forfake not us, we muft forfake 
them : and be carried to an awful tribunal, 
where none of all our wealth will ftand us 
in any ftead, except that which we have laid 
up in heaven, by liberally beftowing it on the 
fuffering members of Chrift upon earth. 

And when we look back upon the former 
days, and revolve in our minds the adtions of 
our forefathers, with what joy and thankf* 


of^he P E A R L o/^ great Price. 193 

giving fliould we now receive and embrace the 
Gofpe!, when by the happinefs of our times 
We can obtain the precious pearl at fo cheap 
a rate, and be made partakers of Chrift, with 
fo little lofs, fo little peril. Heretofore the 
profeffion of the Gofpel and Martyrdom were 
conneded together : a man could no fooner 
profefs chriftianity than he might exped the 
lofs not of riches but of life, and of all things: 
-^and how chearfully, how gladly did many 
thoufands thus fell all, well fatisfied with the 
glorious bargain, and fully convinced that the 
exchange was infinitely favourable on theit 
fides ; — that Chrift and his grace were wor- 
thy all the fevereft tortures they could en- 
dure ! Let us contemplate the noble army of 
Martyrs ; and while their high eftimation of 
this pearl ftrikes us with confcious fhame, at our 
bafe lukewarmnefs and vile indifference to us, 
let us learn at [leafl: to copy after their zeal 
far as we may, and give all we are now able — 
at leaft, all our fins, and all our fancied righ- 
teoufnefs for the excellency of the know^ledge 
of Jefus Chrift. 

At the fame time remembring, that if we 
negled fo great falvation, fuch happy offers, 
and fuch ineftimable privileges, there may 
€ome a day when we fliall wifh we had bet- 
ter known the things that concern our peace. 

Vol. in. No. 5. O The 

194 On the F A R A B L E 

The fword of war hangs horrid over our 
heads: inveterate enemies burning v^ith fu 
rious zeal are raging againft us : and we have 
but one way to hope for a deliverance from 
their threatning fury : even by making the 
Lord our ftrength and our confidence, and 
feeking him now for our fafeguard and pro- 
tedlion, while he may be fosmd, But if we 
refufe now to feek him, if we harden our 
hearts, clofe our eyes, and flop our ears, if 
we refufe to fell all, that we may obtain his 
grace and love ; — then in juft wrath he may 
let loofe the fcourge upon us, bid the de- 
flroying fword go thro* the land, fweep us 
with the befom of deftrudtion, try us with 
far greater trials, and purify us in the fur- 
nace of afflidion. If fuch days fhould come, — 
and all around us looks black and gloomy — 
if fuch days (hould come, how then fhall we 
be able to/^/Z^LL, wealth, life, ho ufes, fa- 
milies, for the fake of this pearl, who now 
will not fell our darling fins and fancied 
righteoufnefs, who now will not part with 
a fmall portion of our goods for Chrift's fake 

to the children of afii'idion ? Confider 

this, dearly beloved in the Lord, lay it to- 
heart, and the Lord give you a juft under- 
ftanding of it ! and while we know that the^ 
goodnefs of God leadeth us to repentance, 


of the VE A'KL, of great Price. 195 

Jet us not defplfe the riches of his good- 
nefs, forbearance, and long-fufFering, but 
let us take heed^ left there be i7i any of lis an 
evil heart of unbelief in departing from the 
lilting God, "Rather exhort one another to day 
"while it is called to day^ left any of you be 
hardened through the deceitfiilnefs of fn^ &c. 

O 2 



Of the Unmerciful Servant, 

Matt, xviii. 35- 

So likewife Jhall my heavenly Father do alfo unto 
yoUy if ye from your hearts forgive not every 
one his brother their trefpaffes, 

WWm'^ S the great and diftinguiaiing blef 
O ^ ^ fing of the Chriftian Religion, is 
)jl( ^ *' the free and full remiffion of all 

^L^^y^ji our debts and trefpaiTes/' — fo the 
great and peculiar doctrine of it, is the free 
and full forgivenefs of all injuries on our parts. 
Herein the chriftian morality is far exalted a- 
bove all the moft refined fchemes of heathen 
rnoralifts : i?^i;^;7^^,before the coming of Chrift, 
fo far from being efteemed criminal, was ap- 
plauded and encouraged as the mark of a 
a great and generous fpirit. Nay, and by 


Of the Vnmerciful Servant. 197 

them of old time, who had clearer know- 
ledge and better means of inftrudtion, it was 
profeffedly taught, ^hou Jl:alt love thy neigb- 
hour, and hate thine enemy * : Nor could the 
contrary duty be enforced by any but him, 
who came at once to give the precept, and 
to fet the example, who came — fo unbound- 
ed was his love — to die, even for rebellious 
enemies, to blejs thetn that curfed him^ to do good 
to them that hated him^ and to pray j or thofe 
which defpitefully iifed and perfecuted hi?n. And 
that the nature and neceffity of this important 
duty, upon which our acceptance with God 
through Chrift depends, might be fully and 
clearly underftood— -Our Saviour in anfvver to 
a queftion of his difciple St. Peter^ delivered 
^ beautiful and expreffive Parable, the fcope 
or chief defign of which he fums up and 
clofes in the words of my text. So likewifefiall 
my heavenly Father do aJjb unto yoii^ if ye from 
your hearts jorgive 7iot every one his brother their 

Flejh and hlood ftill recoils at the dodlrine 
of a free and full pardon of all injuries done 
to us, and is ever inventing fome alleviati'ng 
circumftances to encourage that hateful fpirit 
of refentment, which repeated affronts are 
^pt to raife in the heart. What, fays the evil 
* iVIatt. V. .\ry 

O ; nature 

igS 0^///:'^P A R A B LE 

nature within us, ihall I flill pardon the man* 
flill forgive when he hath added injury to in- 
jury ; and though reconciled upon former of- 
fences, flill aggravates the part, by adding 
frefh ones to them — Surely it may fuffice to 
have forgiven him again and again — But if 
the offender flill perfifls to offend, I can be 
under no obligation to fmother my refentment, 
or to renew my forgivenefs ? Such was Peter s> 
reafoning — Lord^ [aid he ^ how oft JJoall my bro- 
ther fm again jl nie^ and I forgive him ? — till 
[even times? ^ Peter had no apprehenfion, but 
that there muft be fome limited time : He 
had no apprehenfion, that we are bound to a 
continual forgivenefs upon our brother's fub- 
mifTion and defire of forgivenefs. But our 
Lord not only fatisfied him as to the time^ but 
as to the meafure^ and the abfolute necejjity of 
fuch forgivenefs. Jefus faith mtto hinty I fay 
not unto tbce^ until [even times, but until feven- 
ty times fven +, that is, always, and at all 
times, without any determinate number, fo 
often as he who hath offended, returns, ac- 

* The determination of the Rabbis, as Whlthy ob- 
fcrves, in this cafe runs thus, that three off'ences are to he 
forgiven^ but not the fourth' And this they gathered from 
Jffios i. 3. St. Peter puts the three and four together, as 
perhaps others of their Doctors did, and afks, whether he 
muft forgive iiWfeven times? 

f See Gen iv. 24. 


Of the Unmerciful Servant. igc^ 

knowledging his offence; fo often as he in- 
treats you to have patience, fo often are you 
bound freely and fully to forgive his trefpafs : 
As the following Parable v^ill abundantly prove 
to you. 

l^herefore is the kingdom of heaven y the gofpel 
kingdonn, or the kingdom oj God eflabliflied 
on earth, likened imto a certain king^ which 
niDGidd take account of his fervants, God is the 
great King and Sovereign of all creatures, and 
all are accountable to him as fervants to a 
mafter — He will reckon with all. Happy are 
they who live fenfible of this important truth. 

When he had begun to reckon, one fer- 

vant was brought unto him which owed him 
an immenfc debt — even ten thoufand talents *, 
a debt much greater than he was able to pay. 
And fuch being the cafe, his lord com- 
manded him (agreeable to the cuftom of thofe 
times and places \) to be fold for a flave^ and 

* A Talent, fays the Margin of our Bibles, is 750 
ounces of filvcr ; which after the rate of fi^e fliillings the 
ounce, is 187/. 10 j. If thefe were talents of gold, as 
Dean Prideaux obferves, this would amount to feventy 
two millions fterling : if of filver, it would have been 
four millions, five hundred thoufand pounds. Our Lord 
feems to have ufed it as a general exprefTion on purpofe 
to intimate the number and weight of our offences againft 
God, and our utter incapacity of making him any fatis- 
fai5tion. So Doddrige obferves. 

f SceNehem. v. 8. and 2 Kings iv. i. Ifa. 1. i. 

O 4 his 

200 On the PARABLE 

his wife and children, and all that he had, 
and payment to be made. The fervant con- 
vinced of the juftice of the fentence, and ha- 
ving nothing to truft to, but the mercy and 
clemency of his lord, fell down and with 
humble reverence and earneft importunity be- 
fought him, faying, Lord^ have patience with 
me and I will pay thee all. The generous 
lord of this fervant moved with compa/Jion *' to- 
wards him, accepted his humiliation, and to 
make his happinefs complete, not only loofed 
him from the fentence inflicted and thepunifli- 
mentenfuing, but freely forgave him — forgave 
him all the debt. An obligation one would have 
conceived, which muft have melted his heart 
into gratitude towards his lord, and the ten- 
dereft fympathy to any of his brethren in the 
like diftreffes. — But fee how contrary was the 
ifTue. This fame fervant went out from the 
prefence of this compaffionate lord, and as it 
were to try him, he found one of his fellow- 
fervants, who owed him an hundred pence ^ a 
poor inconfiderable debt, in comparifon ot 
that which he himfelf owed his lord - — yet 
behold the bafe inhumanity, uncharitablenefs, 
and hard-hearted covetoufnefs of this fervant 
• — '—He laid his hands on his fellow-fervant, 
and with violence feized him by the throat, 
if: 3:7f>*7%i»ff0ii?,*ree Vol, 2. p 430. 

Of the Unmerciful Ser-jaitf, 20 1 

fo as almoft to flrangle him *, and without 
any preface, faid, Pay me^ that thou owcjl — 
His fellow fervant fell down at his feet, even 
as he had juft before done at the feet of his 
lord, and befought him, in the very fame 
words, which he himfelf had juft before u fed, 
faying, Have patience with me^ and 1 will 
pay thee all. Such a fimilarity of circum- 
ftances, one would have imagined, muft have 
affefted his heart, brought to remembrance 
his own late diftrefs, and melted his foul into 
the like generous compaffion, which had 
flowed fo fvi^eetly from his lord towards him 
T—But his condud was the very reverfe : he 
would have no patience — he would fhew no 
pity: he went, and applying to the proper 
magiftrate, caft his unhappy fellow-fervant 
into prifon, till he fliould pay the debt. 

But^ when his fellow-fervants faw what was 
done, they were exceedingly afflicfted. and. 
jnudi grieved in brotherly charity both for 
the one and the other, upon which they came 
and told their lord the whole tranfadion. 
Then his lord fummoning the fervant to ap- 
pear, fiU'd v/ith juft indignation and abhor- 
rence, faid to him, Oh thou wicked fervant^ 
how perverfe is thy behaviour, how unorate- 

* Such is the emphatical force of th;- orif^inal, Kfccrn<Tcci 


202 On //5.- P A R A B L E 
fill and bafe thy proceeding — I forgave thee* 
all that debt, all that mighty debt which 
thou owedft me, becaufe thou defired/i me ; 
I was moved to clemency and compaffion by 
thy inireaties and diilrrefs, and fliouldelT: not 
thou alfo have had compaffion on thy fellow- 
fervant, even as I had compaffion on thee — 
fliouldeft not thou much rather have for- 
given him^ who was thy fellow -ferv ant and 
owed thee fo fnall a fum, when I thy King 
and Lord had forgiven thee fo immenfe a 
debt ? And his lord was wroth and de- 
livered him to the tormentors ^% till he fhould 
pay all that was due unto him — which as he 
could never do, being utterly infolvent, fo 
could he never exped: to leave that place of 
torment,'' ~ So likewife, adds our Lord, even 
thus ihall my heavenly Father do alfo to you, 
— thus deliver you to the tormentors, till you 
pay that immenfe debt which you owe to 
him, and which you can never pay, and fo 

* Imprifonment, as Dr. Doddridge ob'erves, on the, is a much greater punifhment in the eafteni parts of 
the world, than here : Jiate-criminals cfpecially when con- 
demned to rt, are not onlv forced to fubmit to a very metn 
and fcanty allowance, but are frequently loaded with clogs 
or yokes of heavy wood, in which they cannot either lie 
or lit at eafe : and by ht(\\x^n\. fcourgings and fometimes by 
raiking are quickly brought to an untimely end. See Sam- 
Med&'s China, p. 225. 


Of the Unmerciful Servartt, 203 

muft be confined eternally — fo fliall he do to 
you, if you from your hearts forgive ?2ot, if 
you do not cordially, fincerely and without 
any limitation forgive — every one, for no man 
is exempt from this duty — his brother, their 
trelpafjes — for we pray, forgive us our tref- 
palps, — in the fame weight and meafure — as 
we forgive them that trefpafs againfl us ; and 
it is remarkable, that this is the only petition 
in our Lord's prayer, which He at all ex- 
plains or expatiates upon : but to fhew us the 
importance of this, at the conclufion of his 
prayer he adds — For if ye forgive men their 
trefpafjes, your heavenly Father will alfo forgive 
you. But if ye forgive not men their trefpafjes, 
neither will your heave?ily Father forgive you your 
trefpafjes." — 

Such is the prefent parable, and from it we 
are taught 

Ift. The obligation to and reafon of this duty 
of forgivenefs. 

lid. The nature and extent of it. And 

Hid. The neceffity of it, which is feen in 
the immediate penalty inflidled upon the ne- 
gledlofit. So likewife fliall my Father do 
alfo unto ;'^//, if ye from your hearts, forgive 
not, everyone, his brother their trefpaffes. — 


504 0;/ the PARABLE 

Ift. Then, we are hereby fliewn the oblw 
gation we are under to this duty oi forgiv.e-^ 
nefs. This is i^tw in the firft part of the pa- 
rable, and is expreffed in the words of the 
King to the wicked fervant, Jloouldeji not thou 
alfo have had compajfion on thy fellow-Jervant^ 
even as I had pity en thee? — '^ As I forgave 
thee the ten thoufand talents becaufe thou 
defiredft me, fo oughteft thou to have for- 
given thy fellow-fervant the hundred pence, 
when he defired thee, bound by the ties both 
of humanity and gratitude, of brotherly love 
and regard to thy mafter/'-^ — And here we fee 
our great obligation to difcharge this duty. 
God is the great and fupreme Ruler in the 
kingdom of heaven both as begun on earth 
in grace ^ and fini(hed above in glory : we are 
all his fervants, all fubjed:, all accountable to 
Him : from Him we have received all that 
we have received ; life, with all its bleffings, 
and all its gifts, both of body and mind, is 
derived from the inexhauftible fountain of his 
divine bounty , and all that we poffefs, what- 
ever qualifications or endowments He hath 
beftowed, to him they muft be returned, 
and for His honour and glory they muft be 
ufed, feeing, as we are told, He will take an 
account of his fervants. That this means not 


Of the Unmerciful Servant, 20 g 

that laft and general account, when our doom 
fhall be finally and irrevocably fealed, the 
whole parable abundantly proves : God takes 
an account ofhisferva?itSy or begins to reckon 
with them here upon earth, when his Spirit, 
by the miniflry of the word, reproves the 
linners confcience oijin, when in and by that 
word the carelefs and unthijikitjg fervants of 
God are fummoned to give an account to 
Him, and ftirred up to think of that great 
and final account, which it is dangerous to 
leave unfettled. Thus David was fummoned 
by the prophet Nathan^ when the Spirit of 
God fet home to his heart the awakening 
declaration. Thou art the man. Thus the M- 
nevites were fummoned by Jonah^ when the 
awful threatning of God was denounced — 
Tet forty days and Nineveh JJ:all be overthrown. 
And thus every finner is conftantly fummon- 
ed, when by the word of God read or 
preached they are called to give an account, 
to repent, believe and obey the gofpel. 

When men negledt to hear this call, then 
the great Lord of his fervants compels them 
to be brought to him, compels them to fland 
before him, and to acknowledge their debt, 
either by infiiding heavy chaftifements, or by 
trying them in the furnace of afHidion — out 
of which many thoufands have come puri- 

2a6 On /& P A R A B L E 

fied, who entered full of filth and defilement 5 
and who could fay, Before I was troubled I 
went wrong — bleflTed be the Lord for his af- 
flifting hand — all glory to the God of wif- 
dom for chaftening and correding my foul* ! 
For being brought by thefe afHidtions to give 
an account to their King, then it is, that they 
fee and confefs the immenfe debt, the ten 
thoufand talents^ which are due to him. 

We are all thus in debt to God — and fo 
great is the debt, fo innumerable the fins and 
offences which we have committed, fo heavy 
their guilt, fo oppreflivc their load, that like 
this fervant we have nothing to pay, no means 
to efcape and deliver ourfelves ; reduced 
to the utmoft diftrefs we can find no method 
from ourfelves to help ourfelves, but if God 
proceeds with us according to ftrift and impar- 
tial juftice, we muft be fold, and all that we 
have, that payment may be made. — We muft 
be delivered up as wretched flaves and bank- 
rupts into the hands of fatan our infernal ma- 
tter, and tormentor, and remain in that horrid^ 
flavery forever, as w^e (hall ever be unable to 

* Shake fpear fpeaks finely of adverfity. 

Sweet are the ufes of adverfity. 

Which, like the toad ugly and venomous, 

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head. 

See Beauties of Shakefpear, vol. I, p. 11. 


Of the. Unmerciful Servant. 207 

pay the debt. — In fuch a ftate of imminent 
clanger as this, foon as our eyes are opened to 
it, no wonder the terrors of it drive us to 
our almighty Creditor, with prayers and tears 
entreating him to have mercy upon us, to 
have patience with us, while we promife him 
to do our utmoft to pay the debt. Humble 
fupplication and lincere repentance will never 
fail to move our Lord's compaffion : foon as 
the prodigal returns and confeffes, Father 1 
have Imned againfl heaven a?id before thee, and 
am no more ^worthy to be called thy [on — fo foon; 
the Father embraces him, and reinftates him 
in his former grace and favour. So was it 
with the king in the parable : moved with 
compaffion to his fuppliant and weeping fer- 
vant, convinced of his utter inability to pay, 
and defirous to fliew the greatnefs of his 
clemency, he freely forgives him all the debt, 
freely releafes him from all the punifhment. 

And fuch is God's dealings with us, — foon as 
Gur eyes are opened to fee the immenfe debt 
we owe, foon as our eyes opened to fee the eter- 
nal flavery deftin'd for infolvent finners, foon as 
we fee a juftGod taking a ftridl account, foon as 
we are convinced of the greatnefs of our 
debt and our utter inability to pay, — then fhall 
>ve fall down, worfliip, and implore his com- 
paffion, for the fake of him, who hath paid 
all our debt ; and foon as we confefs, and ap- 

2o8 On the ? ARABLE 

' ply in fincere faith and repentance, fo foon 
will the God of mercy deliver us from the 
debt, freely forgive us all that we owe, and 
difcharge us at once from the guilt, the 
power, and the wages of fifi. And here we 
fee our great obligation to forgive every one 
his brother, their debts and trefpafles : for as 
we are all fuch great debtors to God, and all 
have nothing to pay, and as God upon our 
fincere application, is faithful 2ii\dijiifl, rea- 
dy and willing to forgive us the whole,--- ^ 
when experiencing that forgivenefs, we can 
never be backward, we muft never refufe 
to forgive our brother their little debts and 
trefpaiTes to us, which are but as an hundred 
pence to ten thoufand talents, compared with 
our many, great and aggravated offences to 
the fovereign majefly of heaven and earth. 

So that if any one afks» why niuft I fo?-" 
give my enemy thefe injuries that he hath 
done me ; thefe mcuiy^ thefe greats thefe ;t- 
^^<2if^^ injuries— -The anfwer is plain; becaufe 
you yourfelf want forgivenefs at the hands of 
God, and muft by no means exped that He 
fhould forgive you the ten thoufand talents 
you owe him, except you forgive your bro- 
ther the one hundred pence he ovveth toyoUj 
for Jhould not yon have companion on your fel^ 
lowfervant even as your Lord had pity on you ? 

^ — Thi/s 

Of the Unmerciful Servant, 209 

*•— This obligation to the duty is fo clear and 
plain to all mankind> that none, who make 
any pretence to common underftanding can 
deny its truth and reafonablenefs— but, as 
in mod refpedts is the cafe with men, fo is 
it in this : when convinc'd of a duty, we 
are for bringing it down to our own ftand- 
ard, and for pradtifing it under certain limi- 
tations, which we prefcribe to ourfelves : and 
this perhaps hath been the cafe with no duty 
more than that oi forgivenefs^ in which men 
have been frequently found to deceive them- 
fclves, by fuppofing with St. Peter, either 
feven times often enough to forgive*— or by 
mental refervations, Jorgiving, but not for- 
^getting J with many other the like miftakes, 
which will beft be removed by (hewing in the 

lid place, the true nature and extent of 
the duty. 

And this we are (hewn abundantly in the 
prefent parable — Things fometimes are beft 
feen by their contraries : the wicked fervant 
win (hew us what is ?20t the true ?iature of 
forgivenefs, and how wc ought not to proceed; 
from the confequences, we iTiall learn how 
we ought. When freely forgiven of his 
lord, and under the ftrongeft obligations to 
gratitude and love, as well as, one would 
have thought, the livelieft imprelTions of his 
P paft 

2IO On //j^ P A R A B L E 

paft danger, and now happy ftate, he went 
out, and found one of his fel]ow-fervants> 
whom he treated with the greatefl: rudencfs, 
barbarity, and inhumanity, denied the peti- 
tion which he made even in thofe very 
words which himfelf had even now ufed to 
his lord, refufed to be intreated of him, and 
with the higheft rigour and unmercifulnefs 
caft him into prifon, till he iliould pay the 

Wherein you fee painted, in a lively man- 
ner, the inhuman barbarity of ma?2 to 7nan^ 
to whom God is Ion g-fuffe ring and merciful^ 
and who cannot or will not learn compaflion 
from that God, who is fo willing to exercife 
it towards them. Had this /^r^'^;?/ a61ed as 
became him, upon the fight of this fellow- 
fervant who owed him an hundred pence, 
and upon his requeil' to fpare and have pa- 
tience with him, he fhould, as his lord ob- 
ferved to him, have had compaffion on his 
fellow-iervant even as his lord had compaf- 
fion on him— 'juft in the fame manner : he 
fhould as jreely and fiilly have forgiven him 
the whole, when he defired it — He fhould 
ingenuouily and nobly have confefTed — ** Jufl 
now I have experienced the great clemency 
and unbounded compaffion of 77iy lord and 
your lord — immenfe was my debt to him, 


Of the Unmerciful Servant. 2 1 1 

impoflible was it for me ever to have dif- 
charged it — Had he been fevere and rigorous 
to exad: his due, I w^ith my wife and chil- 
dren and all that I had muft have been fold, 
and wretched flaves muft we have been all 
the days of our life— -but upon my falling 
down and imploring his patience and mercy, 
behold the overflowing of his generous love — 
freely, freely hath he forgiven me all !— and 
you, my fellow-fervant, Ihall partake of my 
happinefs, and fhare in my mafter*s favour — 
freely as he forgave me, fo freely do I forgive 
thee — He hath blotted out all my debt, and 
lo ! for his fake and love, with gladnefs do I 
blot out thine !" Such (hould have been his 
confeflion, fuch his manner of proceeding : 
and fuch muft be ours, if we would be like 
the Father of mercies, if we would have our 
trefpalTes forgiven eve?2 as we forgive our bro- 
ther his trefpaifes. 

So that you fee, the true nature of forgive-, 
nefs, and its true extent is to be taken wholly 
from the nature and extent of God's forgive- 
nefs to us — ^juft as he hath forgiven us, that 
is, Jreely \ and juft as often and as many tref- 
paiTes as he hath forgiven us, upon our fin- 
cere application, that is, iniiianerabk ; juft fo 
freely, juft fo frequently, juft fo with all our 
hearts muft we forgive our returning brother 
P 2 his 

212 On the F AR ABLE 

his trefpafles. And this our Saviour fully 
expreffes in the clofe of the parable, if ye from 
TOUR HEARTS forgive 720t ; a diflembled, 
pharifaical, outward forgivencfs and reconci- 
liation will avail us nothing — our forgivenefs 
muft be from the heart, cordial and fincere; 
juft fuch a forgivenefs as we defire and hope 
to Ihare from God ; and we all defire a full 
and unrefcrved pardon : for if God, according 
to the abfurd notions of fome, {hoxxXA forgive^ 
but not forget ; that is, pretend to forgive, 
while the memory of our offences remained 
frefli againft us ; if he fhould fo forgive, as to 
do us neither good nor harm, (as fome are wont 
to exprefs their forgivenefs) then in how fad a 
ftate (hould we be ? fince all we can hope, or 
all we can receive proceeds wholly from God*s 
entire blotting out from the book of remem- 
brance the very trace of our offences, blotting 
them out like the morning dew ; and in his 
giving us confequent upon forgivenefs, a right 
and bleffed title to enter into the joy of our 

So that forgivenefs muft not be in name, 
but in facft, not in word but in heart, not in 
ceafing to avenge, but in readinefs to ferve ; 
and in a willing acceptance of our offending 
brother to his former grace and favour with 
us, upon his return to us, and acknowledge- 

Of the Vmnerctful Servant. 2 j o 

ment of his fault. But a want of this return 
will be no excufe for our not forgiving : we 
are taught in this fame chapter, ver. 15. how 
we are to zQi with our brother, when trefpaff- 
ing againft us : we are firft, to tell him his 
fault between ourfelves alone : if that will not 
do, then before two or three witnefTes, fuch 
as are moft likely to influence him : and if 
this fails to gain him, we are then to tell it to 
the church : which if he refufes to hear, he 
is to be unto us, as an heathen man and a 
publican : tho* at the fame time we are bound 
to pray for him, to forgive him in heart, for 
the fake of our own fouls ; and to be always 
in a difpofition to give him the outward 
marks of forgivenefs, in cafe of his peniten- 
tial return and requeft to be pardoned and 
reconciled. As to forgivenefs in general, the 
true nature and extent of it, muft and can 
be only taken from the nature and extent of 
God's free and full forgivenefs of ourfelves 5 
and if we do not fo forgive let us remember, 
that with our own lips we terribly and fear- 
fully condemn ourfelves, fince we pray, for- 
give us our trefpaffes, as^ we forgive them 
that trefpafs againft us ; and who that repeats 
this prayer, who that defires falvation, will 
dare to live in malice and at enmity with 
any, fince fo great, fo imminent is the dan- 
P 3 ger 

214 On the PARABLE 
ger — Forgive us, as we forgive them that 
trefpafs againfl: us ! — and this leads me in 
the Hid and laft place to confider the abfo- 
lute neceffity of forgivenefs, which is founded 
upon thefe words, if vjt J or give not every one 
his brother their trefpafjeSy neither will cur hea- 
*uenly Father forgive us cur trejpafj'cs : and is 
fully exemplified in this beautiful parable. 

A complaint being lodged by the fellow- 
fervants, who were very forry to fee what 
v/as done, the lord fummcned again this un- 
grateful fervant to appear, and reproaching 
him with the inhumanity and bafenefs of his 
condud, moved with jufl indignation, he de- 
livered him to the tormentors, till he fliould 
pay all that was due to him ; which plainly 
implies, that he was delivered forever, fince 
he had nothing to pay, and could never in a 
doleful prifon procure any thing to pay fo 
immenfe a debt. And fuch will the cafe be 
with all thofe, who defpife the mercy and 
forbearance of God, and trefpafs againft him 
by injuring their brother; while they may 
fancy themfelves high in the favour of God. 
Plain it is from hence, as well as from many 
other parts of the Gofpel, that forgivenefs of 
injuries is a neceiTary condition of life eternal. 
If we forgive not, neither fhall we be iox^ 
given ; which by no means derogates from 


Of the Unmerciful Servant, 215 

the freedom of grace and the merits of Chrijl ; 
who hath by his one fufficient facrifice fa- 
tisfied for all our fins, and eftablifhed a new 
covenant for us upon better promifes 3 but if 
we fulfil not our part of the covenant (which 
by his grace enabling us, we fhall, if fincere, 
never fail to do) neither muft we exped: that 
God will fulfil his part to us : and he hath 
plainly informed us that if we do not forgive 
with all our hearts, as he hath forgiven us, 
we muft be delivered to the tormentors, till 
v/e pay all that mighty debt which we ovve 

So that the neceffity of forgivenefs is hence 
abundantly feen, that without it we can ne- 
ver enter into the kingdom of God : and into 
whatfoever heart Chrift hath entered by faith, 
this fure fruit will arife ; for if we have not the 
Spirit of Chrijl we are none of his-, and if we are 
not Hke him here, we fliall never be fo, com- 
pleatly hereafter— and forgivenefs of injuries, 
love to enemies, and endeavours to do them 
good breathed thro' his whole life and con- 
verfation 3 yea and in this fpirit alfo he gave 
up the ghoft, when praying for his crucifi- 
ers he faid, Father forgive them, for they kno%u 
not what they do I If therefore you defire to 
efcape eternal torments, and to reign with 
God in heaven, you muft forgive your brc 

P 4 tber 

ai6 On the PARABLE \0 

ther his trefpaffes, even as you expeft and 
defire your trefpaffes to be forgiven of God ! 

From hence we are clearly taught, (and 
from hence fhould be ftridlly guarded to 
watch and to work out our own falvation 
with fear and trembling) that fins once for- 
given, may by our forfeiture of that pardon, 
by our mifdemeanours, be again charged on 
us. For after this lord had forgiven his fer- 
vant the whole debt— freely, fully and with- 
out referve* ; he afterwards revokes his par- 
don, which ftood wholly upon his own cle- 
mency : and being angry with the fervant for 
his unmerciful behaviour towards his fellow- 
fervant, delivers him to the tormentors ; 
upon which our Saviour adds -, fo likewife 
jhall my heavenly Father do^ &c. God*s par- 
dons in this life are not abfolute : but ac- 
cording to the petition in the Lord's prayer, 
anfwerable to our dealing with others, and fo 
conditional '\ \ and are no longer likely to be 


* No man can fay that this fervant was not in a truly 
pardon' d ftate — and that of confequence a perfon in a truly 
pardoned ilate carmot fall— The loop-hole which the fa- 
vourers of ^/<^// perfeverance creep out at, is, a pretence, ^^q 
that thofe who fall away were never really in a ftate of 
g:race. This, man indifputably was: yet he fell away. -v 
rh? conclufion is undeniable therefore. ' ^ 

f DcJdricigey in his parphrafe, obferves, the lord 4^^ 

■uiredy tha.t on con^^ithn of his future good behaviour, he 

: (> .^., "'""''' frankly 


Of the Unmerciful Servant, 217 

continued to us, than we perform the con- 
dition*. — Truth it is, God's grace is fuffi- 
cient for us ; and that grace we (hall never 
want, if we alk for it s but if, according to a 
horrible doftrine of fome, once in grace^ 
always in grace ^ once juftified, always juftified ; 
if prefuming upon this, we neglect to do our 
part, and go out from Gody leave the path of 
his commandments, become unmerciful, and 
ceafe to fulfil the terms of the gofpel cove- 
nant, truth it is, we (hM fall from grace, and 
our laft end will be much worfe than our 
firft — a leflbn of fevere admonition to thofe, 
who prefume upon that grace wherein they 
think they ftand -, but of no difcouragement 
to the humble and fincere believer, who 
ftands by faith, and is continually ftriving by 
a life of obedience and love to make bis calling 
and eleSlion fare. 

It is moreover praftically inferred by 
fome from hence, that the lord forgiving 
his fervant, becaufe he had not where- 
with to pay, and being angry with him 
becaufe he would not have compaffion on 
his fellow- fervant, but went and caft him into 
prifon, not having patience with him till he 

frankly forgave him — and in his note he adds. This is a 
circumftance exceeding natural, and by the revocatioa of 
the pardon afterwards, it feems ftrongly implied. 
* See Dr. Hammond on the place. 


2i8 On the PARABLE 

fhould pay the debt — that this feemeth to 
bear very hard on thofe unmerciful and un- 
chriftian creditors, who caft poor men into 
prifon for their debt : augmenting thus their 
debt by the goaler's fees, and rendring them 
lefs able to pay than they were before : and 
fo making their brother's ftate more mifera-' 
ble, and their debt from him as defperate as 
ever. For fure he that bids us lend, hoping 
for nothing again, will not allow us to im- 
prifon, where nothing can be hoped for : 
and it is to be feared that men fo unmerci- 
ful may find but little mercy at that day : for 
if it be a crime that will then be obje(fted to 
our condemnation, that we did not vifit Chri- 
llians when in prifon, what will it be to caft 
them into prifon — -and fo incapacitate them 
from ever being able to pay us what they 
owe * ? 

Thus then, as the time would allow, I 
have juft pointed out to your ferious reflec- 
tion the great obligation, we who are fiich 
mighty debtors to God lie under to forgive 
one another our leffer debts and inconfidera- 
ble offences : 2dly, the nature and extent of 
this duty — unbounded as God's love to us, 

unlimited as his free pardon of our great, 

iailOU . 

* See TVhitby in loc. 


Of the Unmerciful Servant. 219 

many, and aggravated crimes ; and 3dly, the 
neceffity of it — which is abundantly feen in 
our Lord's declaration at the conclufion of 
this parable ; wherein he fliews indeed at 
once all that hath gone before — So likcwife 
JJjall my heavenly Father do afo unto you — thus 
deliver you to everlafting torments, as he 
hath full right, feeing you are not only his 
fervants, but his infolvent debtors, having no- 
thing to pay — fo fhall he do, if ye forgive not 
from your i6£'^r/j,' without any limitation, with- 
out any referve, freely, fully, fincerely ; if ye 
forgive not every one^ no man is exempt y high 
or low, rich or poor 5 all who will enter the 
kingdom of heaven, and efcape the hands of 
the infernal tormentors — every one muft for- 
give from their hearts his brother their tref- 
pajjes — their trefpaflfes, none excepted, how- 
ever frequently repeated, till feventy times 
feven, however aggravated ^ for we muft 
have compaflion on our fellow-fervants, when 
requefting us, as our Lord had compaf- 
fion on us, when we defired him *. 

Hard as this duty may feem to flefli and 
blood, yet we muft perform it : and tho* from 
that fpirit of malice and revenge, which a- 
bounds fo much amongft Chriflians, full of 

* Sec Macknight's Harmony, Vol. I. p. 218. 


220 On the PARABLE 

contention and flrife, and almoft upon every 
occafion having recourfe to law, and falling 
out by the way, as if they were not brethren, 
tho' from hence, I i^iy, one would conclude 
this duty but little known, yet we have it 
written as bright, as with a fun-beam, in the 
gofpel of truth, that without it, to whatever 
w^e pretend, or whatever name we bear, we 
are not Chriftians, and can never be forgiven 
of God. And if not forgiven, as we are all 
unable to pay, we muft be fold, and confined 
till we pay the uttermoft farthing. 

But the duty, tho' hard to flefli and blood, 
is far different to the renewed fpirit : the true 
Chriftian rejoices in every opportunity to ma- 
nifeft his forbearing and forgiving fpirit, and 
knows not any joy fuperior to that of heaping 
coals of love on his enemies head, by doing 
him all the good aftions in his power, ac- 
cording to St. PaiiH excellent advice. If thine 
enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirjt, give him 
drink ', jor in fo doingy thou jhalt heap coals, 
melting coals of love, upon his head. Be not 
overcome of evil ^ but overcome evil with good. 

Nothing wiil avail more for the attainment 
of this divine temper, than a frequent and 
conflant meditation upon the example oiChriji-, 
who with fuch unfpeakable meeknefs endur- 
ed, even for the fake of fmners, fuch a con- 

Of the Unmerciful Servant. 221 

tinned buffeting of his enemies, fuch a con- 
ftant return of injuries for benefits, of ingra- 
titude and reproach for miracles and bleffings. 
But as even the example of Chriji will lofe all 
its influence, unlefs you are convinced of 
your high obligation to forgive others by a 
thorough fenfe of your own want of forgive- 
nefs from God, — by all means labour to at- 
tain the moft juft and perfedt knowledge pof- 
fible hereof. Confider yourfelves as fervants, 
as fervants accountable to their divine King 
and Lord, who will one day reckon and that 
very ftridly with us all : prepare yourfelves 
for that reckoning, fearch, try and examine ; 
and when you find, how immenfe your debt 
is, how great and numberlefs your fins and 
tranfgreflions, and how impoflible it is for 
you ever to pay, ever to fatisfy divine juftice: 
then delay not to fly and lay hold of the 
horns of the altar, delay not with ftrong cry- 
ing and tears, to prefent your fupplications 
before the throne of grace : plead the one 
fufficient facrifice, of the Son of God -, and be 
aflTured, that when we confefs our Jins God is 
faithful andjufl to forgive m our fins, a7jd to 
clcanfe us from allunrigbteoufnefs. " A fincere 
humiliation of heart, a fervent prayer, an ap- 
plication full of hope to the patience of God: 
a real defire and firm refolution of fatisfying 


222 0/2 /& P A R A B L E 

God, to the utmoft of our power, are the 
only difpofitions, that can qualify us to re- 
ceive the infallible remedy. And it is no 
prefumption in a man who has nothing, to 
promife the payment of all, provided he de- 
pend not on himfelf, but on the patience of 
God and the merits of "Jefm Chriji, The va- 
lue of thefe is infinite, and from thcfe the 
repentance of a Chriftian receives all its 
worth. A man cannot have too great hopes, 
when he is refolved, not to fpare him- 
felf, and his heart is entirely devoted to 

But when, upon fincere application to the 
God and Father of our Lord Jefus Cbrijl^ the 
load is removed, the debt difcharged, and 
you freely forgiven, then take care, that you 
perfevere in the right way 5 remember, that 
by faith you ftand ^ that the promifes of God, 
and your forgivenefs are conditional : if you 
fail to difcharge your part, you fully acquit 
God from his promifes, and fubject yourfelves 
to the punifliment due to impenitent offen- 
ders. Let him therefore who thinketh he 
ftandeth take heed left he fall ; efpecially 
let him, as here taught, by our great law- 

* See ^efndk in loc, 


Of the Unmerciful Servant, 223 

giver and judge, beware of an uncharitable, 
unforgiving temper. Be fure, this can never 
confift with the Chriftian life : if you are a 
true member of Chriji^ pardoned for his fake, 
and living by his Spirit, you muft love, as he 
hath loved, you muft forgive as he hath for- 
given. A certain and infallible teft, where- 
by you may try and examine yourfelves: 
and if you are found wanting in this balance^ 
pray with earneft fincerity for a better fpirit, 
even a fpirit of love^ from him who hath 
weighty and who can fupply all our light- 
nefs. Forget not the high obligation you 
lie under to forgive : remember your debt 
to God, remember your daily prayer : and 
indulge not a diabolic and diftrading fpirit, 
which ruins all prefent tranquillity and will 
eternally condemn you. — Think of the fweet, 
the inexpreffible fatisfadlion of a foul melted 
with divine love, and ready always to for- 
give and embrace the returning brother ; and 
when offences feem too repeated, too aggra- 
vated to be borne, too vaft to be paffed o- 
ver ;--when your patience feems almoft 
worn out, then caft your eyes on Stephen 
ftoned, and hear him, crying, Lord, lay not 
this Jin to their charge ! But if this will not 
do, if this be not fufficient, I have another 


i^24 OnfhePARABLE 

example in referve; which muft be efFeQualj 
to perfuade you all, — if this will not do, 
then raife your eyes to Je/uSy dying even for 
your fins, even for his enemies, behold him 
hanging on the bloody tree, and liften to 
his laft and loving voice, Father, Jorgive them^ 
for they know not what they do ! 

Father, for the fake of that prayer — for 
the fake of that Son of thy love, oh fend 
forth thy fpirit of love into all our hearts j 
and enable us by thy grace, fo to forgive 
every one his brother their trefpaffes, as we 
hope to be forgiven of thee our great and 
numberlefs fins and offences ! Convince us 
all, O Lord, we befeech thee, of the great- 
nefs of our debt, to thee, and our utter in- 
capacity to pay, that with fervent prayer and 
earnefi: application we may fly to the throne 
of grace, and be difmift with the comfort- 
able enjoyment of thy pardoning favour. 
Oh make us fo duly fenfible of, fo perfedlly 
grateful for thy ineftimable love to us mi- 
ferable finners, that we may overflow with 
love one towards another, that we may love, 
even as we have been loved, and continue 
•vermorc from our hearts to forgive every 
one his brother their trefpaflTes, even as 


Of the Unmerciful Servant. 225 

Thou, Oh Father of mercies, haft freely 
forgiven us all our trefpafles, which we be- 
feech thee to grant, for the alone merits 
and mediation of our Lord and Saviour fefm 
Chriji, Amen. 

you III. 



F^:^^ # ^^A^^cT "^e^^?^f c^^*^"^. 


Being the Subftance of Two Sermons. 

Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 

St. Matt. XX. 1 6. 

5o the laji Jhall be firft : and the Jirfi lajl : for 
many be called^ but few chofen. 

«MM)^ I T H this fentence Chrijl clofes a- 
W W S P^^^^'^j which he delivered con- 
^ ^ cerning the Izingdom of heavefiy and 

hJ^M^yA it is remarkable, that he introduces 
the parable with this fentence alfo : as you 
will fee in the laft verfe of the foregoing 
chapter — where he fays, But many that are 
firfl fjall be laft^ and the laftfrft : upon which 
he adds the parable — For the kingdom of 
heaven is like unto a houfholder that went 
out early in the morning to hire labourers 
into his vineyard —And when he had ag?red 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 225? 
with the labourers for a penny (a Roman penn^ 
abou 7^. of our money) a day, he fent them 
into his vineyard. And he went out about 
the third hour, (which was our nine in the 
morning, fix being called with the Romans 
and Jews the firfl: hour ; fo, nine the third, 
twelve the fixth % three in the afternoon the 
ninth ; and fix the twelfth or laft hour) about 
the third hour therefore he went out, andfaw 
others ftanding idle in the market-place, and 
he faid unto them. Go ye alfo into the vine- 
yard, and whatfoever is right and reafonable, 
I will give you. And they confented and 
went their way into the vineyard. And again 
he went out about the fixth and ninth hour, 
and did likewife. And about the ekvejtih 
hour, or five in the afternoon he went out 
and found others ftanding idle, and faith 
unto them. Why ftand ye here all the day 
idle ? They fay unto him, Becaufe no man 
hath hired US; he faith unto them, Go ye 
alfo into the vineyard, and whatfoever isright^ 
that (hall ye receive. — So when even was 
come, the lord of the vineyard faith to his 
fteward, call the labourers, and give them 
their hire, beginning from the laft unto the 
firfl:. And when they came that were hired 
about the eleventh hour, they received every 
man a penny. And when the firfl: came, they 
Q_2 fup- 

228 On the PAR ABLE 

fuppofed, that they fhould have received 
more, and they likev^ife received every man 
a penny. And when they had received it 
they murmured againft the good man of the 
houfe, faying, Thefe laft have wrought but 
one hour, and thou haft made them equal 
unto us, which have borne the burden and 
heat of the day. But he anfwered one of 
them and faid. Friend, I do thee no wrong -y 
didft thou not ^^^n^^ with me for a penny? 
Take that thine is, and go thy wny ; I will 
give unto this laft, even as unto thee. Is it 
not lawful for me to do what I will with 
mine own ? Is thine eye evil, becaufe I am 
good ? — So the Iq/l //jail be firjl and the frjl 
Icijl : for many be called but jew chofen *. 


* Dr. JVcitedaud^ in a fermon on this fubjedt, gives a 
pr.rticular explication of the worAchofm^ which I will fiib- 
join and Jcave to the reader's judgment — *' The meaning 
of the word CHOSEN, is much the fame with eminent or 
extraordinary ; in fuch a fenfe as St. Paul is called a chvfen 
*vejjci^ and Ch rillians a chofm generation. So we read of 
chofen men of ilrael, choice cedars, choice city, choice gold, 
choice/} vines, and the like : m.eaning excellciit or eminent in 
their refpeciive kiiids. There are bui fev/ fuch chofen or e- 
minent faints in comparifon of the whole number called. 
Yet thev and they only fhall be reckoned of the firft rank 
in God's kingdom, v\hether they came in foon or late." 
And this the learned doftor thinks the main fcope of the 
parable, which is to fliew, that thofe caild even at the 
laft hour, may by their greater %eal and affiduity in the 
vineyard, become e'-wfen, emii.ent i'crvants of God, and (o 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 229 
This fentence evidently direds us to the 
main fcope and defign of the parable : and we 
may obferve, that it is ufual with Chrijl, ei- 
ther at the beginning or end of almoft all his 
parables to affix fome leading fentence, which 
may dired: our view to the principal point of 
dod:rine intended to be inculcated in that pa- 
rable. The prefent fentence therefore is to 
admonifli thofe, who feem to be/r/? in the 
church either on account of their fingular gifts 
or good works, to take heed and humble 
themfelves, left, if they Hiould grow vain on 
account of their gifts, or truft in their works, 
God fhould humble them, and they who 
were jfirft fliould be rejeded and efteemed a- 
mongft the laft.— How natural and common 
it is for fuch fpiritual pride to creep into the 
breafts of even the chofen fervants of God, 
many examples in the facred fcriptures fiif- 
ficienly prove, but none more remarkably 
than that of the apoftle St. P^'/^r.— And in- 
deed it feems to have been on his account, 
that our Saviour delivered this parable, as you 

be entitled to the rev/ard. But to do his argument juftice 
the reader (hould confult the fermon, p. 413- vol. I. of his 
Pradical Dijcourfes, Itfcem-:, in my judgment at bat^ 
to enervate the feiire and defign oF the parable, and is bor- 
rowed, I fhould conceive, from the Jewilh parable of the 
like nature, delivered v/ith no good view to the prefent. 
1 v.'ill ;2.ive a furthur account of it h rcaiter. 

Q 3 W"l 

230 On theV AK K^hE 

will fee by referring to the foregoing chap- 
ter—There we read of a young man who 
came \.o Chri/i, full of his own merits, and 
felf-fatisfied with his external obedience to the 
commandments of God : and when our Lord 
in anfwer to his enquiry what he feould DO 
to have eternal life, gave him a particular call 
(thereby to prove his fmcerity and truth) to 
go and fcil all that he had and give to the 
poor, and come and follow him : he, on ac- 
count of his great poffeilions, oftended at that 
faying, left Chriji^ and went away forrowful. 
Upon this, our Lord faid to his difciples, 
that it was eafier for a camel to go thro' a 
needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into 
the kingdom of heaven— -fo apt are thefe 
earthly riches to take up and pojjefs the hearty 
to hinder the foul from hearing and obeying 

the call of Cbri[i. A little of the old leaven 

ioon difplayed itfelf in the heart of Ptter, 
This young man, thinks he within himfelf, 
jsjuftly rejected from the kingdom, becaufe 
he would not obey the call of Chrift. But we 
have forfaken all and folio Vv/^ed him. We are 
therefore better and more worthy than he, we 
deferve to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 
And Cbriji replies accordingly 5 " You are in- 
deed in the kingdom of heaven, and bleft with 
unfpeakable privileges : but it behoves you 


Of th Labourers in the Vineyard. 231 
diligently to take heed, that ycu walk wor- 
thy your high vocation and calling, left you 
be caft out thence for your pride, and elation 
of mind. Formany that are fir ft may and flmll 
become the lajl, as many that are 720W lajl JJmli 
become thefirfi. Many that have done and 
fuffered much for the kingdom of God, may 
fo lofe his grace and favour, as not to receive 
the prize, if they truft too much on their 
own works, if they glory too much in their 
own obedience, if felf-confidence and felf- 
merit lead them from the proper dependence 
on the almighty grace and favour. 

This is the foundation and main fcope of 
the parable, in which we muft acquiefce, if 
we cannot be able to accommodate every 
member and part of it : for in the parables 
we muft not fometimes be^ over exad: as to 
particular circumftances, but attend princi- 
pally to the main point defigned to be incul- 
cated ; which, as was obferved, may almoft 
always be gathered from fome leading paffage, 
and the context. 

There are many particulars, v/herein that 
fentence is verified, the Jirjl Poall be la[i andthe 
lajlfirji, as well with regard to the '^ews and 
Gentiles, (who are, as expofitors agree, pri- 
marily intended in this parable) as alfo with 
regard to individuals; and there are many 
Q 4 ufeful 

^l^ On the PARABLE 

ufeful branches of dodlrine and inftrudlion to 
be gathered from the feveral circumftances 
of it. . Some of which I fhall endeavour by 
God's grace to recommend to your confide- 
ration and pradlice. But before I come to 
the points of dodtrine, it may be proper juft 
to make a general remark on thofe who were 
the occafion of this parable — the young man 
and Peter. In one or other of whom, we 
have a picture of almoft all mankind. For 
human reafon either cannot or will not recon- 
cile thefe two things with each other : the 
one, that falvation is wholly of grace, not of 
works : the other, that this notwithftanding, 
we muft labour by good works to make our 
calling and eledion fure: fo that he who re- 
fufes to work, muft inevitably be rejected. 
Yet, when we have done all, all that was 
commanded us, we have no merit, free grace 
alone remains and triumphs, and by that a- 
lone, we unprofitable fervants muft be faved. 
Men cannot reconcile thefe two things : and 
hence in all times, from the very beginning 
corruptions have followed in our moft holy 
faith ; Tome daring to cry out, becaufe it was 
preach'd unto them, that men were freely 
juftified by faith, thro' the grace of God, 
therefore let us do evil^ that good may come, let 
US CGntinue infm that grace may abound. This 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard. 2-^3 

was the cry even in St. PauV^ days > this was 
the confequence of his evangelical preaching: 
it has been the fame in all ages of the church, 
and even in our day there are not wanting 
fome, who ignorant of the grace of God and 
the faith of our Lord "Jefiis Chrijl^ ftill retain 
the old error, and ftumble at the fame ftumb- 
ling block. — The patrons of works, on the 
contrary, perfuade themfelves thus : It is the 
will of God, that we fhould do good works^ 
we have his commands, his promifes, and his 
threatnings : and we do obey them : therefore 
the reward is due to us, of debt and merit T 
And it is no wonder that this opinion (hould 
prevail with men of the world, nay and with 
fincere men too, when even Peter himfelf 
who had heard y^^;? the baptift, had convers'd 
above three years with Ch?'i/i, and made a 
notable confeffion of him, was fl^akcn with 
it : for he reafoned in fom.e fuch manner as 
this, — This young man will not forfake all 
and follow Chriji^ and therefore, he is ex- 
cluded from the king-dom of heaven. We 


have left all ; therefore we merit the king- 
dom of heaven. Chrifl anfwers to thefe fug- 
geftions of his: — *' Take care left thou of the 
Jirft mayeft become the iajl ;" and left he 
{hould not underftand the faying or ioon for- 
get it, he adds a parable according to his 


234 0;^ /i^d' P A R A B L E 

cuftom, when he treated of any point of doc- 
trine particluarly ufeRil, neceiTary and difficulty 
the better to imprefs it on the minds of alj 
who iliould hear—In which he teaches us, 
I. That the houiholder calls and hires of his 
own free grace and wilL It is of his own 
choice and favour, that he calls any into his 
vineyard. 2. That they who refufe the call, 
and do not enter into the vineyard, butftand all 
the day idle, receive nothing when the even- 
ing cometh. 3. That they who labour ac- 
cording to the houfliolder's rule and diredion, 
receive the reward. 4. That they receive it 
not for the merit of the work done, but they, 
who pretend merits and defervingSy are re- 
jected : fo that Chrijl teaches us the fame with 
what St. P^«/ teaches, GaL ii. 5. T^hat we who 
are jews by nature and not firmer s of the Gen- 
tiles^ have believed in Jefus Chrifi^ that we 
might be jujlified by the faith oj Chriflj and not 
by the works of the law ; for by the works of 
the law ^ moral or ceremonial, fl:all no flefld be 
juflified^ and — not by works of right eon fnefs 
which we have done, but according to his mercy 
he faved us — So that from this parable, and 
thefe examples we are taught to maintain and 
defend both thefe important articles of faith, 
as weliyr^^ juftification by the grace of God, 
as the abfolute neceffity of good works. — 


Of the Laiotirers in the Vineyard. 235 
And if we would enter into the kingdom of 
heaven, we muft with thankful hearts adore 
the free grace of God in Chriji^ and humbly 
depend upon his infinite merits for falvation ; 
yet not fo depend as fondly to rejecfl obe- 
dience and love, without which we fliall never 
be faved : — but fo work as if we were to be 
faved by good works only, and when we have 
done our utmoft, fo abandon, as it were, all 
remembrance of them, as if they had no part 
in the bufinefs of falvation. 

This premifed we may now come to the 
parable — wherein we are taught, that there 
are many Jirfl, firft in calling, firft in dignity, 
firft in gifts, firft in graces, who fhall be 
laji, who fhall thro' felf-confidence, or an 
opinion of their own merits, be laft in ho- 
nour, laft in place, laft in blifs, — a folemn 
caution to all not to be high-minded but fear 
— for many are called, to many the outward 
call of thegofpel is given, but few are chofen'^^ 
few hear and obey it, like the young man, 
they think the conditions too hard, and fo go 
2c^2i^ forrowful'y for none can be chofen, who 
do not hear, and obey the call, who choofe 
rather to ftand idle in the market-place, than 

* See Mtinfters ufcful obfervations on the firil 
verfe of this chapter. 


236 On //6^ PARABLE 

to go and work in the vineyard. To ex- 
emplify thefe important truths, and to per- 
fuade us to obey, and enter into his vineyard, 
Chriji delivered the prefent parable. Which 
we may properly enough divide into two main 

Ift, The hiring of the labourers into the 

lid, The giving them their wages, when the 
evening was come. 

Ift, The khjgdom of heaven is likened unto 
a certain man that was an houfholder — The 

kingdom of heaven^ is the gofpel kingdom 

God*s difpenfations and manner of proceeding 
in the kingdom of grace, fet up here on earth 
is like to the proceeding of a certain houfholder . 
We muft take care not to underfland the king- 
dom of heaven^ in this place as of the future 
and glorious ftate of the church triumphant^ 
but of the church militant here on earth — 
which is frequently called in the New Tefta- 
mait the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom 
is likened unto a certain hcupholder — God in 
Chrift is the great houfolder^ the great mafter 
of his family the univerfe, who went out 
early in the morning, in the beginning of 


0/ the Labourers in the Vineyard, 137 

things and the eftablifliment of his church 
to hire labourers into his vineyard : the 
church is frequently compared to a vineyard, 
as you may fee in the very next chapter to 
this, and in many exprefs pafHiges in the pro- 

I. It is obvious to remark here, that no one 
is by his own means a labourer in this vine- 
yard : that no one of his own accord, comes 
to the houfliolder, and defires to be employed 
by him. But that he is hi mfe/f obliged to go 
out, and feek for them : and v^hile he feeks 
for them he jfinds them ftanding idle^ wholly 
unemploy'd in any good thing ; and not 
only ftanding idle, but alfo in the market-place 
— antiently the market-place was not only the 
place of fale and contracts, in which were 
many frauds and cheats, and much fin com- 
mitted 5 but the place alfo of judgment and 
trial, where malefadlors were tried, con- 
demned and puniflied. — Chrijl therefore by 
this circumftance would fuggeft to us what 
we are by nature, idle, without good, full of 
fins, and full of judgment. Nor do we feek 
God, that he may amend, and receive us 
into favour: but he defirous of our falvation, 
himfelf feeks us, and is found afterwards of 
thofe who fought him not. Therefore 
He faith by the prophet—-/ am found of 


238 O/i tie P A R A B L E 

them thai fought ?ne not — and St. Joh?! fpeaking 
of this adorable love in our bleffed Father 
fays, Hereifi is love : 720t that we loved God, 
and fo fought him-'-iut that he loved us- —iind 
fo fought us — and how did he feek us ? even 
by fejiding bis only beloved Son to be a propitia^ 
tionjor our Jins — to purchafe the vineyard for 
us to work in, to call us into it— and to give 
us that reward, which is the merit only of 
his propitiation and of his faithful fervices ! 
herein indeed is love ! 

2. And this divine houfholder went forth 
with this benign purpofe, not only early in the 
morning, but alfo on the 3d, the 6th, the 9th, 
and the nth hour — that is with refped: to the 
whole univerfe, from the very beginning of 
the world even to thefe laft ages ;• — from the 
time oi Adam the i ft hour, oi Abraham the 3d, 
of Mofes the 6th, of the prophets the 9th, of 
Chrijl the i ith or laft times as the days of the 
gofpel are called : for he hath always had a 
vineyard to employ labourers in, always had a 
church upon earth, wherein his faithful fer- 
vants might do his work and perform his will. 
Thefe different times of going out are by fome 
referred to the Jews and Gentiles, of which 
I will fpeak hereafter. With refpedl to indi- 
viduals this kind mafter goes out to hire them 
into his vineyard, from the Jirjt hoiir^ from 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard. 23^ 
childhood and the firft dawning of reafoix 
even to the end of our hfe^---fome being 
happily called into his church and faith at the 
iirft hour, and fome, that none might defpair, 
tho* none ihould prefume even at the eleventh! 
for who that rejeds the call at the 3d, 
or 6th or 9th hour can tell, that he fhall have 
it at the i ith ? Nay from the parable we have 
great reafon to fuppofe, that thofe who were 
called at the nth hour had never been calFd 
before-— /F/6y Jiand ye all the day idle^ faid 
the mafter— -they reply, becaiife no man hath 
hired us. But how unfpeakably dangerous 
had it been to have refufed, when called 
and hired into the vineyard !— Let us alarm'd 
hereby beware, left we reject the call of 
God, and withftand the kind offers of grace, 
for now is the accepted time, now is the day of 
Salvation : let us take heed left we be found 
all the day idle in the market-place, pafling 
all our time in this world, without any work 
in God's vineyard ^ for if we do nothing 
there, how bufy foever we may be in the 
market pf this world, it will avail us nothing 
—we fliall hear at the conclufion that dread- 

• * St. Gregory upon the gofpel gives both thefe expofi- 
tlons — and in nearly the fame words — wherefore I omit to 
quote hirn, and refer the learned 'reader to the author 


240 On //^^ P A R A B L E 

ful fentence, bind him hand and foot — and cafi 
the unprofitable, the idle, ufelefs fervant into 
mter darknefs.--^ 

3. The houfholder, we are told, who thus 
went out to hire labourers into his vineyard, 
agreed with thofe, whom he fent in firft, for 
z penny a day. This circumftance in the pa- 
rable has been varioufly interpreted : fome 
fay that by the penny\ the reward is to be 
under ftood even eternal life : which God hath 
promifed as a reward to all his faithful fons 
and fervants. But it cannot be this for two 
reafons : firft, becaufe the parable treats not 
of the things which are to be hereafter, but 
of God's dealings in the gofpel kingdom 
here below : and 2dly, becaufe that reward 
cannot be given to thofe that murmur at the 
good man of the houfe : In heaven there 
will be no murmuring, no difcontent : ail 
with one voice will declare, " jufl and 
righteous, holy and true are all thy ways, 
O king of faints ["—others, and that with 
greater fhew of probability, explain the penny, 
of Chrijl 5 for he is the true price, the true 
purchafe money of our redemption and deli- 
verance : he is the fliekle of Jfrael, the 
ranfom money paid for every foul, that 
luakes the wh«le city of yerufa/em holy.* — 

* See Exodus xxx. 12 — 16, 


Of the Labourcj^s i?i the Vineyard 241 
We may fay in general that the price agreed 
upon, are th.e bleilings and privileges of the 
Gofpel, which are offered equally to all, — 
free pardon, adoption and grace; and which 
are given here below, as freely to thofe 
who have wrought but one hour, as to thofe 
who have borne the heat and burden of the 
day : all are alike juftified in Chrijl JefuSy 
with whom there is no diff'erence : and ia 
whofe fight the perfecuting Paul^ when com- 
ing into the vineyard, is as fully entitled to the 
reward (for it is wholly of grace) as the a- 
miable Timothy, who had known and loved 
the facred fcriptures even from a youth. This 
is the cafe as to juftification here : but it will 
be very different as to eternal life hereafter : 
where, we are afl^ared, the degtees of blifs 
and glory will anfwer the degrees of holinefs 
in the faints : which fupplies us with another 
reafon, why this penny cannot be the eternal 
recompence of reward. 

4. When the houfliolder had called and a- 
greed with them, we don't find thefe labour- 
ers {landing any longer idle, nor betaking 
themfelves elfewhere, but obediently hail- 
ing to the vineyard : otherwife they would 
never have received the permy, — And thus we 
are taught, what we are bound to do, when 
God gracioufly calls and gives us the blefled 
Vol. IILN^.6. R off'ers 

242 On //j^ P A R A B L B 

offers of falvation : whither fhould we go, fcut 
to that vineyard, the church of Chri/l below, 
where He himfelf is found, that generous 
vine, in which we muft be ingrafted if we 
would bring forth fruit, and in whom if we 
are not found at the lafl: day, we fhall be caft 
out as a withered branch fit only to be burned ? 
But he who is engrafted in this vine hath all 
things in him : he receives life and fpirit from 
him, as the branch from the vine, that he 
may grow up in him, and bring forth fruit 
unto everlafting life. — Nor muft vi^e, if we 
tender our own falvation, delay our departure 
into the vineyard, and put off from day to- 
day our approaches thither. Let no may fay, 
there are twehe hours of the day ^ it will be 
fufficient, if I enter at the eleventh : this is the 
voice only of profanenefs, ingratitude and folly: 
and hardnefs of heart may follow fuch a re- 
folution, if the call be now negledled ; as 
David faith, To day if you will hear his voice 
harden not your hearts 3 and God may in the 
end complain of fuch, as he did heretofore by 
his prophet, I have [pre ad out my hands all the 
day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a 
way that was not good ^ ajter their own thoughts I 
Oh, 'tis fad for a God of love to complain thus 
of his own people : Oh 'tis fad, that the peo- 
ple of a God of love, his own creatures, fhould 


Of the Labourers tJi the Vineyard, 245^ 

rejefl: his gracious calls, and refufe to accept \ 
as a free gift the ineftimable bleffings pur- 
chafed by a bleeding Redeemer ! — If gratitude 
to your God, if love to yourfelves, if the hopes 
of immortality can at all influence your breafts, 
furely,my beloved, you v^ill rejoice to hear and 
accept the call of God: will ufe your utmofl 
efforts to obey it, haften to the vineyard, and 
work the works of him that calleth you, 
while it is day, as knowing that the night 
Cometh wherein no man can work. 

5. For, from this parable, we learn, what 
the labourer is to do there, who, obedient to 
the call of the houfliolder, enters into his vine- 
yard. He is not to deftroy or confound any 
thing : he is not to pafs away his time idly, 
in foohfli difcourfe or ufelefs trifling : he is not 
to hinder or difturb others in their work : 
but to attend to his own bufinefs. — By all 
which we are taught with regard to our- 
felves, that when we have received remif- 
fion of fins thro' faith in Chrifty and are ad- 
mitted to his church, and a participation of 
his facraments, of his free grace and favour 
to miferable fmners, we muft take care not 
to turn the grace of God into lafcivioufnefs, 
not to ufe our liberty for an occafion to the 
flefli, but by love to ferve one another, as 
free^ and not having our liberty as a cloke of 

R 2 ^^^^^'-^ 

244 0;/ ^^^^ PARABLE 
malkmifnefs^ hut as the fervants of God. As 
fervants In his vineyard, we muft do the du- 
ties of that vineyard : we muft dig about and 
dung the vines, prune and purge them that 
they may bring forth more fruit ; or in other 
w^ords we muft mortify our old man, crucify 
the flefli, with its affedions and lufts, and 
walk in the Spirit, according to the Gofpel. 
This we muft do if we would not be caft 
out of the vineyard, as idle and unprofitable 
fervants : nay we muft do it, tho' we may be 
compelled, if I may fo fay, to bear the heat 
and burden of the day, though it be very 
hard and grievous to the fiefn 3 tho' our paf- 
lions are ftrong, violent, and difficult to be 
fubdued ; yet fubdued and kept under they 
muft be : we muft, with St. Paul, keep un- 
der, and bring our body into fubjedion, left, 
after all our faith and hopes and privileges, 
we ourfelves fhould be cajhaways. Wo to 
them that are idle in the vineyard, where 
there is fuch continual need of labour, and 
v/here there is fach conftant means of im- 
provement ! and where all our works and all 
our labours v/ill be acceptable : for they that 
do good works acceptable to God in Chrift, 
muft be in the "vineyard, adopted into the fa- 
mily of their heavenly Father : that is, in- 
grafted in Chrifi by faith, reconciled to God, 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 245 

and regenerated by the Spirit. For a bad 
tree cannot bring forth good fruit : and what- 
ever is not of faith is Jin, faith the apoftle. 
And upon this our church in one of her ar- 
ticles* declares, that "-' Works done before the 
grace ofChrift, and the infpiration of his Spirit ^ 
before men are in the vineyard, are not ac- 
ceptable to God: and that for the moft fubftan- 
tial xt2.{ov\, forafmiich as they fpring net ^that 
FAITH in Jefus Chrijt, which alone makes 
our works acceptable." — 

And as we learn hence, where our works 
are to be done, fo aUb we learn what kind of 
works we muft do : not that which feems 
good in our own eyes : St. Faul rejects the 
will'Worflnp of the Cohfjians, and Cbrifl him- 
felf declares, from the prophet, In vain do 
they worfljip me, teaching ior doBrines the com- 
mandments of men. The houfliolder hires the 
labourers into his vineyard with an intention, 
that they fhould obey and execute his orders : 
and produce fruits for the edification of the 
church. They muft not return to the mar- 
ket-place : they muft ceafe to do evil, and learn 
to do good : the bleffed commandments of 
their Lord and Saviour muft be the rule of 
their adions, and thefe they muft diligently 
labour to fulfil in faith and love. 
* Art. the 1 3th. 

R '? As 

246 On the P AR AB L E 

As thus we are taught, the place of good 
works, even the Church, and the fort of them, 
obedience to Chrifl's holy commands: fo let us 
learn alfo from hence, to obey and follow the 
voice of God, whenever he fhall call us to 
this vineyard and to thefe works. Let us fear 
to put him off, and to rejedl the hour, left 
another hour Ihould not come, left another 
call fhould not be given. Let us not pre- 
fume to reafon with him whofe ways tho' in- 
fcrutable are always juft and right, why he 
calls fome more early and fome later into his 
vineyard. Let us not afk with Peter, But 
Lord, ivhaf fiall he do? but heedful to the 
divine call, obey it with all our hearts ; thank- 
ful, abundantly thankful, that it hath been at 
all vouchfafed to us : and labouring to im- 
prove it to the utmoft of our power : not be- 
ing flothful in bufinefs, in works of faith and 
labours of love, but doing and fuffering with 
fo much diligence, with fo much zeal, pa- 
tience and meeknefs, that we may properly 
fay, we have borne the heat and burden oj the 
day ! Then abundantly happy fliall we be, 
when the evening comes, and when our con-^ 
fcience bears a bleffed teftimony, that we have 
been faithful to our great Mafter's work ; 
which, happy are they, and happy fhall they 
be, who perform with all their heart : but curfed 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 247 

is he, faith the prophet, that doth the 'work of 
the Lord deceitfidly. 

And when we have thus done all, thus 
been laborious, faithful, and induftrious in our 
day of fervice, to our great Houfliolder our 
divine Lord and Mafter^ let us lay all our 
fins and all our imperfedions with all our 
beft works at his feet, and fmcerely ac- 
knowledge ourfelves unprofitable fervants. 
. — Let no man prefunie to fay, " I have la- 
boured much, I have laboured more than o- 
thers, I will now give over — I have done more, 
and fo lliall receive more than others" — Let 
no man thus deceive himfelf : but remember, 
that our fervice is not done, till the day is 
done : and that when the even cometh, and 
our Lord {hall reckon with us, the whole re- 
ward is of grace, not of debt : that if he 
fhould be extreme to mark what is done amifs 
none of our beft fervices could ftand the trial 
of his eyes, which are as a fame of fire, and in 
whofe fight even the higheft angels are not 
pure : and that, as he hath an undoubted right 
to do. what he will with his own, he may 
give unto the lafl even as unto the firft. For 
he is the great Sovereign and difpofer of all, 
and it is our higheft happinefs to adore his 
divine wifdom, and to acknowledge in all 
things th^ depth of the riches both of the 
R 4 judicc 

248 0;/ /y&^ P A R A B L E 

jullice and mercy of God : for they who re- 
pined hereat in the parable, manifefted only 
their evil eye *, evil becaufe he was good : 
and were diffatisfied with his awards merely 
becaufe they were generous and beneficent to 
their fellow-creatures : and this naturally leads 
me to the lid part of the parable, the diftri- 
bution of the reward when the evening was 
come — omitting which to the next opportu- 
nity, let us mean while endeavour to improve 
by the prefent. 

Chriji, the great Houfholder, felicitous for 
his people's welfare, is continually feeking 
labourers, is conflantly fending to call and hire 
fouls into his divine vineyard. Oh what un- 
fpeakable grace is this ! that the great Lord of 
the world fhould condefcend to call, to invite, 
to hire poor duft and afhes, to hire us his 
creatures, us miferable finners, to come and 
receive from him the ineflimable bleffings 
purchafed even at the price of his own life ! 
Who would chufe rather to ftand all the day 
idle in the market-place, than to embrace his 
bleffed offer, than to haften to his place of la- 
bour, than to work the works of him that 

* The only thing we have to do, is ftill to humble our- 
felves whatever our condition be ; becaufe nothing but hu- 
mility can either keep the/r/? in grace from becoming the 
Iqjl — or draw down that mercy on the lajf^ which will 
make them /r/?. ^lefnelky 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 249 

calleth, as remembring that it is but a day, 
a fpan-long day, wherein we can work, the 
day of life, which when once clofed upon 
impenitent eyes, — farewell the calls of grace, 
farewell the hopes of glory ! 

Dearly beloved, let me intreat you all, now 
to accept this offer ; this offer of falvation 
and life, which he is at prefent pleased to 
make you : oh rejedl not the council of God 
againfl your own fouls : but refolve to clofe 
with Cbriji^ to leave your fins, to haften to 
his vineyard, to come in living Faith to him, 
and to labour in all his pleafing works of 
love and holinefs ! for his commandments are 
not grievous : his fervice is perfedl freedom : 
all his paths are peace. — You fee how much 
his loving heart is inclined to you : you fee 
how defirous he is to gain you to himfelf : 
you fee how much he longeth for your fouls 
welfare : fo much that rather, than you fliould 
die, this Lord of love confented himfelf to 
die for you ! thus he went out early to feek 
and to hire you : and by his Spirit, by con- 
fcience, by the word read and preached, how 
often, how follicitoufly hath he preft you to 
come to him ? and flrange, that you fhould 
ftill diftruft his love, flill doubt his mercy, 
ilill refufe to hearken ^ flill remain his ene- 
jjiips and cpntinue in league and friendfliip 


zSo On fbe P A R A B L E 

with that fin and Satan, which nail'd your 
Redeemer to the tree ! oh the fad hardnefs of 
the human heart ! to doubt the fidelity of a 
God, who fealed his covenant with his own 
blood : to refufe that heart to him, for which 
he, who is the creator of all hearts, gave 
himfelf a facrifice on the crofs ! and which 
now, he only afks, he only wifhes you to 
give him, — that he may enter into it, and 
blefs it with all his bleffings! that he may 
fill it with peace, with joy and love, deliver 
it from the fear of death and of hell j and 
give it, in the foretafce of his favour, heaven 
begun here, and heaven confummated here- 
after 1 oh that you would all therefore be 
wife and accept this gracious oifer : that 
I could prevail with you to come and give up 
your hearts to Jefus, that he might fill and 
blefs them ! but if not with all, would God 
I could prevail with even one foul to cleave 
to our divine mafler: would God, that one, 
if it be but one would fay, '' I can ftand here 
idle no longer : bleffed Jefii thou haft over- 
come : I yield. Lord, I yield : I give up my- 
felf, my foul, and body unto thee! oh take me; 
Lord, take mc to thy fervice, to thy grace and 
favour ! the time paft too, too much fufficeth 
to have wrought the works of fin and Satan ! 
I repent, Lord, I repeat: the remembrance 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 251 

of my fins is grievous to me : the burden is 
intolerable ! and I come prepared and defirous 
henceforth and forever to do thy v^ill, oh my 

May God of his infinite mercy grant this 
to be the language, this to be the voice, not 
of one but of many, not of many but of all ; 
not of all in this, but of all in every congre* 
gation aflembled to honour him this day; 
of all who fhall hear or read his divine word ; 
for the fake and all-fufiicient merits of Jefus 
Chrifl our only Lord and Saviour. To whom, 
to the Father and the holy Spirit, three per- 
fons but one God, be all adoration, thanks- 
giving and praife now and forever. Amen I 


On the P A R A B L E 

Of the Labourers i?i the Vi7teyard 

&. Matthew XX. 6. 

So the lajl fjall be fij-fl : and the fir II lajl : for 
many he called ^ but Jew chcjen. 

"fW^W^ H E whole Gofpel is throughout 
^ T § °"^ continued difplay of the rich 
^ ^ rnercy, the free grace and a- 

hJ0^ji bundant love of God to penitent 
finners : It is in the ftridl fenfe of the word 
glad tidings to a guilty world : glad tidings of 
pardon, peace, and purchafed heaven by the 
infinite merits of a dying Redeemer ! Who 
in every word he fpoke, in every adion he 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 253 

wrought, while upon earth, manifefted the 
iiioft afteding compaflion to the Ibuls of fm* 
ful men, and pour'd the moft prevailing com- 
forts into the wounds of every troubled con- 

The prefent parable, (of which the words 
in the text are the application, and of which 
you heard at large in the former fermon) was 
delivered with the fame benign purpofe : to 
(hew us the infinite riches of God's free grace 
and bounty to finners, and how good and gra- 
cious he is in the diftribution of thofe re- 
wards, which no man can merit or claim, 
and which, as being wholly free, we have 
nothing to do, but to humble ourfelves before 
him, and to receive with thankfulnefs a gift, 
proceeding folely from his fovereign goodnefs. 
-—To the acceptance of thefe gofpel bleffings 
and the obtaining all the privileges offered 
in Chrifl, nothing conduceth fo much, nay 
we may add, nothing is fo abfolutely necef- 
fary, as entire humility and perfect acquief- 
cence in the divine good-pleafure : pride and 
felf- complacency, an opinion of our own 
merits, or a confidence in our own works 
cuts us off from all the riches of God's boun- 
ty, and flops the channels of his grace from 
us. — Wherefore the whole fcheme of the 
Gofpel is fo wonderfully and fo mercifully 


^$4- OnfheVARABLE 
condufted, as to hide all prUe from man 5 to 
debafe him utterly in the fight of God ; and 
to teach him, that he alone who is poor in 
fpirity he alone who humbles himfelf^ he alone 
who denies himfelf^ takes up his crofs and joU 
lows Chriji^ can be either a difciple of that 
Lord, who humbled himfelf even to the 
death of the crofs ; or an inheritor of that 
kingdom, which was purchafed by the deepeft 
humility, that of the Son of the moft high 
God, humbled into the form of a fervant 
upon earth. — To this, I obferved, in my for- 
mer fermon, our Saviour direds the view of 
his difciples and fervants in all ages, by the 
prefent Parable, and by thefe words, which 
lead to this the main fcope and defign of it — 
So the lafl J}:all bejirji, and thejirjl laft : which 
were directed, as I then remarked to you, to 
humble the growing pride of St. Peter and 
the reft of the apoftles, who began to over- 
value themfelves on the privileges they en* 
joy'di ariling from Chri/l's free choice of 
them, and fo to prefer themfelves to others : 
a dangerous evil and pernicious enemy to the 
kingdom of Ch?''i/l in the heart which, as 
was obferv'd, is founded wholly in humility j 
and muft of confequence be utterly fubverted, 
when any preference of ourfelves to others, 
any felf-confidence, felf-feeking, and felf- 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard. 255 

efteem — fo much the more dangerous be- 
caufe fpiritual, — ufurp the place of perfect 

To deftroy all thefe, and to fhew the 
fovereign freedom of God in the difpofal of 
thofe Gifts, which flow abfolutely from his 
mercy and grace, Chrijl delivered the Parable 
of the houfholder : which, as I obferved to 
you, might very properly be divided into two 
parts : 

Ift, the hiring of the labourers into the vine- 
yard. And, 

lid, The accounting with them, or the giv- 
ing them their wages. 

In confidering the firfl: we faw God's 
mercy and free grace in calling men into his 
vineyard, calling them not once only, but 
going out frequently, and repeating his ear- 
neft invitatious to men to come to work in 
his vineyard. A grace which as we could no 
way merit, fo can we never fufficiently ad- 
mire and extol. And this grace is ftill more 
manifefted by the reward^ which he is pleafed 
to propofe : for man is God's creature, what 
have we that we did not rcceiije — and there- 
fore all we have is immediately due to him, 


256 0« the PARABLE 

and can claim no reward, did we employ it 
faithfully from childhood even to death : 
much more then is the bounty and mercy of 
our God extoll'd, who offers to give the 
penny, the great and glorious blefTings and 
privileges of the Gofpel, not to thofe only, 
who work all the day, but to thofe who work 
only one hour : to all who will repent and 
believe and come to Jefus that they may 
have life. 

But this is no encouragement to the impe- 
nitent and obftinate finner, tho' more wel- 
come than life to the repenting foul 5 for none, 
you obferve, who obeyed not the call, and 
went not into the vineyard, had any fliare in 
the reward : the' fome work'd more than 
others, yet all worked: all were employed in 
the vineyard ; and it pleas'd the goodnefs of 
the mafler, for the encouragement of all, that 
none might defpair of his goodnefs to make 
the laft equal to the firft — -as we fhall fee in 
the lid part of the Parable, where we have 
an account of the labourers receiving their 

V/hen the evening was come, we are told, 
that the Lord of the vineyard faid to his 
ft e ward, call the lab owners ^ and give the?}i their 
hire^ beginning from the laji to the Jirjl.-—By 
the eveni?2g here I apprehend, as before noted, 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard. 257 
we muft underftand either the end of the 
world, or the end of man's life ; but take it 
only as a general expreffion, accommodated to 
introduce the main fcope of the Parable ; 
which appears in the difpenfation of the 
reward, a difpenfation that occafioned fome 
murmuring againft the good man of the 
houfe. For fo gracious and bountiful was 
he, that when they came who were hired 
only at the eleve?2thy the laji hour of the 
day, he gave them a pefjfiy^ the price of the 
whole day*s labour. Seeing him thus benefi- 
cent and generous, they, that were hired 
firft, when they came, fuppofed that they 
fhould have received more : and they likewifc 
received every man a peftny. And when they 
had received it, without any juft grounds for 
fo doing, moved only by envy, they murmured 
againft this good man of the houfe, faying 
theje laji have wrought but one hour^ and yet 
thou haft made them equal to iiSy who have borne 
the heat and burden of the day. — This indeed 
would have been matter of juft complaint, if 
the beneficence of their Lord had injured 
them, and caufed them to receive lefs than 
their due : but while his generofity only ferved 
to make happy their unfortunate fellow-la- 
bourers, whom no man had hired before — 
furely they fhould have adored and admired 

S his 

258 On the? AK Khh^ 

his kindnefs, and rejoiced together in the rc^ 
fledtions on his juftice and mercy. 

This he fuggefted to them — he kindly an- 
fwered one of them and faid, friend, I do thee 
no wrong : Didft not thou agree with me for 
^ penny? was not this thine own bargain with 
me, and have not I exadly fulfilled my con- 
trad: ? take therefore thy penny, take that 
which is thy due, and go thy w^ay contented 
and well pleafed : I will give unto this laft 
even as unto thee:- and furely I may do fo 
without offence to thee : for is it not lawful 
for me to do what I will with mine own? 
is thine eye evil, and art thou full of envy, be- 
caufe I am good and generous to thy fellow- 
labourers — why doil: thou grudge them the 
enjoyment of what thou thyfelf enjcyeft, and 
by which thou art in no refpedt injured ? 
fo the laft Ihall be frf,, the laft called, (hall 
and may be firft in eftimation and reward, 
while the firft, by their murmuring, envy 
and opinion of their own works yZW/ and may 
be lajl : for many are called, many are hired 
into the vineyard, but by means of their own 
evil difpofitions, their pride, envy and high- 
mindednefs, few of thofe many are cbofen — 
only thofe few, who humbly receive the di- 
vine bounty and thankfully adore the free 
grace which beftows it. As therefore by 


Of the Labour' ers iii the Vineyard, 259 
Faith we jland^ not by any unconditional de- 
cree, it behoves us not to he high-minded hut 

Herein we have a pidure not only of the 
yews murmuring againfl God for his mer- 
cies to the Gentiles — but alfo of Chriflians, 
w^ho have long laboured in the vineyard, 
againft the juftice of the reception of notorious 
and great finners into the like privileges and 
blcflings of the Gofpel kingdom vv^ith them- 
felves : an evil too common v^ith mankind, 
to vi^hich the befl are liable, and againft 
which they can never too ftrongly fortify 
their fouls 3 as remembring that Ch^iji died 
for fmners ; and that there is more joy in 
heaven over one finner that repenteth^ than 

* Tt deferves notice, that St. Paul abfolutely declares 
the Jev/s to have been broken off, becaufe of unbeliefs 
and the Gentiles to ftand by Faith : that he warns thefe 
to continue in that Faith^ and in the goodnefs of God, on 
pain of being broken off: and comforts thofe with the 
aflurance of being grafted in again, if they abide not ftill 
in unbelief, Rom. xi. 20 — 23. What words can more 
plainly and clearly alTert, that Salvation is free to all, v^'ho 
believe — and that damnation is the fad confequencq — not 
of any reprobating decree of God — but of the obftinate 
infidelity of man. What words can more clearly and fully 
obviate the dodrine of the impojjtbility of falling from 
grace ? If the Gentiles continue not, Paul aliirms, in the 
goodnefs of God, they fljall be broken off: if thj Jews 
repent and believe^ they fliall be grafted in. So then the 
word of comfort is, believe and continue in belief and 
thou {halt be faved. See Ezekiel xxxiii. 

S 2 over 

26o 0« ^y^^ P A R A B L E 

over ninety and nine juft perfons who need no 

I will juft in brief explain to you the Pa- 
rable, as adapted to the ^ews and Gentiles ^ 
and proceed to obviate any objections which 
may arife againft the juflice of God for this 
manner of proceeding with finners, and con- 
clude with fuch remarks and encouragements 
to come to Chrtjl's as the prefent Parable abun- 
dantly fuggefts. 

Thofe who refer this Parable to the Jew& 
and Gentiles, particularly that able commen- 
tator Whitby"^-, fuppofcj that by the houfliol- 
ders firft going out early in the morning is 
meant, Cbri[t\ firft going out to call the Jews, 
— by his 2d, the fending of the apoftles 
to preach in their cities and villages \ by the 
3d and 4th at the fixth and ninth hour, 
Chriffs preaching, by his apoftles, affifted by 
the Holy Ghoft, firft to the Jews in Jud^eay 
and then in the difperfion — and by his call 
at the eleventh hour, the preaching the Gofpel 
to the Gentiles, who had not been hired be- 
fore J --by the equal reward, which thofe 
hired at the eleventh hour received is meant, 

* See his annotations as alio thofe of our very learned 

Dr, Hammond on this JParable. See alio Coccsius. 


Of the Labourers in the Viiteyard, 261 
the equal privileges and advantages to which 
the Gentiles v^ere admitted, as well as the 
Jews : by the murmuring of thofe firft called, 
who had borne the heat and burden of the day^ 
is meant the murmuring of the Jews againft 
the Gentiles, which you obferve thro' the 
adls of the apoftles and the epiftles is a con- 
ftant ground of complaint and difturbance — 
diffatisfied as they were, that the Gentiles 
fhould be admitted to the privileges of the 
Gofpel, without the works of the law, the 
heat and burden of which they had long borne. 
And by the houfholders reply is fuggefted to 
us, God's uncontrolable right and fovereign 
authority to beftow the bleffings of his fon 
upon the Gentiles as well as the Jews: and 
to them the laft fentence maybe well applied, 
fo the firft jloall be laft and the laft firft : that is, 
fo the Gentiles believing in and thankfully 
receiving Chrlft fliall become his church and 
people, whilft the Jews murmuring and fall- 
ing off from Chrifty becaufe of this his klnd- 
nefs to the Gentiles, fliall be excluded and 
caft out from his kingdom, till the laft : for 
tho' many of them be called by the preaching 
of the gofpel, but few of them thro' their 
own perverfenefs and obftinacy, — not any de- 
cree of God unconditionally reprcbati7ig them, 
— will be chofin^ or prevailed upon to become 

S 3 the 

262 On the P A Pv A B L E, 

the ek5i or ions of God by Faith. — And the 
manner in which this fame fentence is ufcd 
in the icriptures confirms this interpretation ; 
for it is manifeftly applied to the Jews and 
Gentiles — one paffa[<e (hall faffice, Luke xiii. 
28, 29. Tfer^ Jhall be weeping and gnaf}- 
ing of teCiby when ye Jhall fee Abraham and 
Ifaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the 
kingdom of God and you yourfches caft cut : and 
they J}:aU come from the eaft and from the wcft^ 
from the north ajid from the fouth : and Jhall 
ft down in the kingdom of God : and behold there 
are lafi which Jhall bejirft, and fir ft which Jhall 
be I a ft. 

Thus the Parable is applied to the cafe of 
the Jews and Gentiles ; and perhaps there is 
no interpretation of it wherewith all the cir- 
cumftances fo perfedly agree : more efpecially 
that of the murmuring^ which we fee fully 
explained by the future conduct of the Jews; 
to whom the calling of the Gentiles was the 
greateft offence, as well as myftery : *^ yea 
even the believing Jews murmured at their 
admiffion to the like privileges with them, 
without circumcilion and the obfervance of 
the law of Mofes, and made great fchifms in all 
the churches of the Gentiles on that account, 
and the unbelieving Jews were enemies to the 
gofpel for their fakes"— and as this preaching 


Of tie Labourers in the Vineyard. 263 
tlieGofpel to all the world, and no longer 
■confining his church to a particular people, 
was, amoneft the reft, one great purpofe and 
confeauenc'e of ChrifFs death and facnfice for 
all, therefore we find him all thro' the iVm 
reftament, taking every opportunity ^ incul- 
cate this great point, and to bring to light that 
hidden mvfterv, that the Gentiles potild be faved ; 
of which St". Peter, who by particular reve- 
lation preached to the Gentiles, fpeaks fully 
Aas XV. 7. in words, that excellently illu- 
ftrate the Parable confider'd in this view : 
men and brethren, ye know, how, that a good 
■while ago, God made choice among us, that the 
■Gentiles by my mouth Jkould hear the -word of the 
Gof pel and believe : and God which knoweth the 
hearts bare them witnefs : giving them the Holy 
Ghoft, even as he did unto us : and put no dife- 
rence between us and them (giving to every man 
a penny) purifying their hearts by Faith. Now 
therefore why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon 
the neck of the difciples, which neither our ja- 
thers nor we were able to bear ? But we be- 
lieve, that through the grace of our Lord ]e{ns 
Chrift - we fiall be faved, ev^n as they : and 
they fliall be faved even as us, after the fame 
manner, x«6' ov rpoTrov, namely by the Grace ot 
the Lord Jefus. Thus the Parable has an ob- 
vious reference to God's dealing with the 

S 4 Je^» 

264 On tbe V AR ABLE 

Jews and Gentiles : but it is nolefs juft, when 
referred to his dealings with mankind in ge- 
neral : as we are abundantly fhewn by it the 
freedom of his Grace, which is rich to all, 
to the greateft finners, as well as the higheft 
laints, no lefs to common and unclean Gentiles, 
than to holy and feparated Jews. He admits 
all alike to the privileges of the Gofpel, who 
obey his call, and enter into the vineyard : 
adulterous Magdnleny and perfecuting Paul^ 
as well as the ftrid: pharifee Sunon^ and the 
beloved St. "John : to one he gives the Holy 
Ghofl: as well as to the other, for he is no 
refpeBor of perjons^ and he is a debtor to none 
— all his creatures are alike dear to him, all 
his children equally beloved. He puts no dif- 
ference between them, when they hear his 
word and believe, purifying their hearts by 

How comfortable a refledion ! What 
glad tidings indeed to the foul opprefs'd with 
the conscience and condemnation of fm ! — 
Well might the prophet, when about to pro- 
phefyof ChrijV^ kingdom begin, Cofnfort ye, 
comfort ye my people, faith your God^ jpeak ye 
comfortably ^"1? Jerufalem, and cry unto her, that 
her warfare is accomplifloed, that her iniquity is 
pardoned^ for fhe hath received of the Lord's 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard. 26 c 

hand doubley<5r all her fmsJ^ What comfort 
like this, what tidings likethefe? that a God 
hath bled, that a God hath died, that a God 
hath rifen and lives for evermore, to give 
full pardon and eternal peace to all the fmful 
fons of men, who will come in faith and im- 
plore the bleffing ! Oh wonderful grace ! 
oh unfpeakable love ! Not a fin fo great, not 
an iniquity fo heinous, be they red as fear- 
let, be they numerous as the flars of the 
firmament, but fhal! freely be pardoned, but 
fliall wholly be done away by faith in the all- 
fufficient facrifice and fatisfaftion of the dying 
Jefus ! Let but the prodigal come to him- 
felf, arife, return, and confefs his fault before 
his father — the father will anticipate his 
warmeft defires, run to meet, embrace, wel- 
come, clothe, and rejoice over him. 

* Jfaiah xl. ii. The commentators have been much 
troubled with the word double in this text, and have given 
different and very contradi6iory interpretations. The 
original word is *pf)2 which fignifies to double^ by folding 
back^ fo to revert^ and hide from fight. It is ufed for the 
doubling or folding back of the fixth curtain in the fore- 
front of the tabernacle. Exod. xxvi. 9. And in the prefent 
pafTage, it means a folding back, hiding, and taking 
away all the fms of Jcrufalem, by Chri/i -, for fie hath 
received of the Lord's hands reverfion^ folding hack^ utter 
hiding for all her fms. They are doubled back, and covered 
from fight forever. — It fliould be cbferved, that in the 
parallel places commonly brought to explain this pafTage, 
the original for double is not the fasie as here, it is njti'D 


z66 On thj PARABLE 

Here is abundant confolation to penitent 
finners, rich encouragement to arile, repent 
and be doing, but not the lead foundation 
for continuance in fin, not the leaft encour- 
agement to thofe who are refolved to reject 
all the good offers of God, and foolifhly pre- 
fame upon a future repentance, which they 
may never have, upon an Almighty mercy, 
which they have continually defpifed. The 
father took not home the prodigal while 
amidft harlots or feeding fwine ; 'tis upon 
the 7^etnrni?ig prodigal only, that his paternal 
bowels yearn. 

The elder bi-other, in that parable, exaftly 
correfponds with the labourers who were firft 
hired in this : he would not enter in, when 
he heard the mufic and rejoicing, he expoflu- 
lates with his father, as thefe labourers do 
with their lord : and the father condefcends 
there to reafon 'vvith him, and juftify his con- 
dud, even as the lord doth here with his la- 
bourers : and in both the one and the other 
we have a lively reprefentation of that natural 
envy and grudging even againfi: the good gifts 
of God to others, from which the mod 
righteous are not wholly free, and to which 
frequently, if they do not diligently keep the 
watch, even their very righteoufnefs leads 
chem. To fee labourers rewarded who have 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 267 

worked but one hour, even as they who have 
borne the heat and burden of the day : — To 
fee a brother, who hath fpent all his fubftance 
in riotous living, welcom'd home with greater 
feflivity, than ever that fon lliared who had 
fef ved his father many years and never tranf- 
grefled his commandments ^ — to fee a finner, 
who hath led the greateft part of his life in 
all the luxuries and pride of fin, who hath 
continually done what feemed good in his 
own eyes, denied none of his fenfual appe- 
tites their indulgence and taken his fill of 
every criminal enjoyment — to fee fuch at 
length received into equal grace and favour 
with ourfelves, who have from our youth up 
labour'd to ferve God with all our might, 
liv'd in mortification of every fenfual appetite, 
denied ourfelves all the gratifications of fenfe 
and been laborious in works of faith and love 
— to fee fuch admitted to equal privileges, 
pardoned, juftified, adopted — to fee them par- 
takers of the divine communion and blefl 
with all the Gifts of the holy Spirit — their 
hearts purified by Faith — how apt is frail 
man to feel envious grudging, a kind of mur- 
muring and repining againfl the good man 
of the houfe, whofe bounty to our fellow- 
creatures we fliould rather adore and rejoice 


268 On the PARABLE 

to fee them though late made partakers 

of the Hke precious promifes with ourfelves ? 

To admit, or in any degree encourage this 
temper, is highly criminal, and may be fo 
prejudicial to our fouls, as to coft them the 
lofs of God's favour forever. It is ours there- 
fore, in fuch cafes, to rejoice v^ith a brother 
that was loft, but is found , to adore with 
thankfulnefs that goodnefs, which is alike 
unmerited by, alike unbounded to all, and 
which defireth all to be faved -, to be glad, 
that we have been able to work at all in his 
vineyard, that fo we may in humility receive 
that recompence, which is wholly free, by no 
means the due and debt of our labours, all of 
which are of right belonging to God: and in 
whofe fervice, alas ! we are all fuch flothful 
fervants, that we can never wi(h to depend 
even upon our very beft performances, but 
having done all, muft acknowledge that we 
are but unprofitable fervants — and when called 
to receive our hire at laft, have only to urge — 
Lord^ enter ?iot into judgment with thy fervants 
for in thy fight JI: all no man living be juflijied. 
*' What is man that thou art mindful of 
him, and the fon of man that thou vifiteil 
him ? What hath man deferv'd, that thou 
fhouldeft give him thy grace ? Lord, what 
caufe have I to complain, if thou forfake me ? 


0/ the Labourers in the Vineyard. 269 

or if thou doft not that which I deiire, what 
can I juftly fay againft it ? Surely, this I may 
truly think, and fay, Lord, I am nothing, I 
can do nothing, I have nothing that is good of 
myfelf: but in all things I am defedive, and 
do ever tend to nothing : and unlefs thou help 
and inwardly inftrud: me, I become altoge- 
ther cold and indifferent *." 

But it may be faid, tho' the mercy znAgood- 
nefi of God is very manifeft from his dealings 
with thofe called at the eleventh hour, yet his 
jiijiice doth not appear fo evidendy in the cafe 
of thofe called at the firft hour ? — To which 
it may be replied, that it is infinitely happy 
for us miferable finners, to fee his mercy, as. 
it were, triumph over his juflice — Mercy, \\\% 
darling and peculiar attribute, which is beheld 
fo beautifully glorious in Chri/i, and which 
fhould rejoice the hearts of us all, when we 
confider our own wretched unworthinefs, and 
in how fad a cafe we fhould be, were God to 
deal with us according to oiirjins^ and accoid- 
ing to his jiijlice — and therefore after the moil 
emphatical and devout part of the prayers 
which we offer to God, we pray, *' O Lord,, 
deal not with us ajter our finsy nor reward us 
after our iniquities" — fince very fad indeed 
would be the reward of thefe our beft fer vices. 

* ^tQ Thomas a Kmpisy B. 3. c.40. 


270 On //j^ P A R A B L E 

But moreover in anfwer to this, it may a- 
gain be faid, and I think very juftly, that as 
the eleventh hour denotes the Gofpel-days, 
thefe laft times, fo the former part denotes 
God's deahngs with the Jews^ with whom he 
had made a pofitive agreement^ if we may io 
fay, to give them \k\^ penny, to raife up Chrifi^ of 
their feed and nation — whereas he had made 
no fuch promife tothe reft of the world — and 
therefore in the parable you read, he agreed 
with the firft labourers for 'S. penny a day, with 
the reft he made no agreement, whatever is 
right and reafonable^ faid he, that will I give 
you *, — -referving the power to do more than 
juftice, yet giving them the affurance of no 
more. But further, the houfholder himfelf 
obviates all objedions of this fort, and fhews 
the tx2i^ juftice of the dealings of God, even 
with his own fubjeds. 

For Ift, they can complain of no injuftice 
done them, who receive their full wages, who 
are paid to the full of what they agree for : 
Friend, 1 do thee no wrongs faid he : didft not 
thou agree with me for a penny ? — And fo in re- 
gard to all the fervants of God — if he give 
them the precious privileges of the Gofpel, if 
he admit them into grace and favour here, 

* See Grotiusj his Annotation on ver. 4. 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 271 
and the blefled hope of immortality hereafter 
— what can they defire more ? Only let them 
take care not to repine againfl: the good man 
of the houfe, only let them be humble and 
thankful for God*s good gifts both to them- 
felves and others — and then they fhall receive 
exceedingly abundant above all that they afk 
or think. 

But 2dly, every man has a right to do what 
he will with his own — and fuppofing him juft 
in fulfilling his contracts, he is not the lefs 
juft, for being generous to others, and doing 
more than they could demand or exped. Is 
it not lawful for me to do what I will with mi ?ie 
o%vn? — Yes, furely, it is, and a fountain of 
perpetual praife it ought to be to us all, to 
think that God is fo liberal, fo bountiful to us, 
of his abundant grace, refufing none the ut- 
moft, yea infinitely more than they can de- 
mand, and giving to others, equally with the 
choiceft of his fervants, what they had no 
reafon to exped, and therefore fhould receive 
with greater humility and love ; as it is reafo- 
nable to fuppofe they will : for faid Chrifty 
upon another occafion, to whom much is Jor- 
given ^ they will love much : Magdalen had more 
forgiven than Simon — iYiQvziovQ Jhe loved more : 
he murmured, like thefe labourers, againft 
the Lord, but that Lord fupplied both him 


272 On the ? ARABLE 

and us with an excellent reafon for his pro- 
ceedings, namely, that greater grace from 
God generally begets greater love in the peni- 
tent — and it is the work of Icve alone, which 
is acceptable in his vineyard : the warmth and 
fincerity of which, it is poffible, may make 
one hour's fervice equal to that of the whole 
day *. Let us moreover remember, that our 


"^ Dr. IVaterland obferves, It is an advantage moft cer- 
tainly to have been^r/? called : it is an advantage likewife 
to have been long lifted into God's fervice, and to have 
been as it were all the day working : but ftill thefe advan- 
tages, great as they are, may be more than compenfated 
by 2i fwper-ahiindant %eal, fervor and earneftnefs in thofe 
who came later, ^y their greater alacrity and redoubled 
fpeed, they may outrun thofe who have got the ftart of 
them ; they may advance far in a little time, by taking 
large ftrides and quick paces : and fo may get beyond 
thofe who had fet out long before them, but had been 
flack and loitering in comparifon : and thus the lajl may he 
firji^ and the fir ft laft. — It is true if the firft had been ex- 
ceeding active and diligent, and had made the utmoft ad- 
vantage pofnble of their early fet ting out \ it would not then 
have been poiiible for thofe who came later to outftrip 
them, or ever to come up to them : but here lies the cafe : 
there are but few fuch pcrfons in comparifon, few who 
have fo much zeal, perfeverance, and afliduity in a long 
courfe : many are called^ but feiv chofen: many are called 
into God's fervice, and many alfo go on with it faintly 
however and languidly : but there are few of that eminent^ 
that heavenly, that chofen and godlike rtamp, as to begin, 
continue, and perfevere to the end, with due fervour and 
conftancy : and becaufe many grow weary and faint upon 
the progrefs, and do not make all the ufe they might of 
the advantages they have had by their early call} therefore 


OJ the Labourers in the Vineyard, 273 

fervices bear notany the leaft proportion to the 
reward offered us : were an houfholder now 
to hire poor men into his vineyard or farm, 
and to offer them a thoufand pounds a day 
upon conlideration they faithfully difcharged 
their duty, would any man fuppofe that their 
labour and fervice was equivalent to, and me- 
lt is, that the laft comers will many times be preferred to 
the firft j and fo the laft will be firft in God's favour and 
elteem, and the firft laft : tho' both fliall be rewarded not 
in proportion to the time fpent in the fervice, but to their 
refpective zeal and earncftnefs in it."— -And hereupon the 
learned Do6lor builds his interpretation of chojen, as given 
at the beginning of this difcourfe : which feems, as then 
obferved, to enervate the force of the parable, and to be 
too agreeable to the Jevj'ijh fancy following, recorded by 
Dr. Lightfoot, in his Harm. vol. I. p. 249. For the apo- 
flate Jews, the better to glofs over their wicked caufe, and 
the better to fubvert, if poflible, the Chriftian, have in- 
vented not only 7niracles^ but parables^ in many refpeils 
fimilar to our Saviour's, in order to difcredit, and to weaken 
the evidence and power of his Gofpel. " The Jeruf. Tal- 
mud in Beracoth^ faith Dr. Lightfcot, hath a parable fome- 
what like tothiss but wildly applied to a far different pur- 
pofe. A king hired many workmen, and there was one of 
them hired for his work, for more than what was enough. 
What did the king ? He took him and walked with him. 
up and down. At the time of the evening the workmen 
came to receive their wages ; and he alfo gave him his 
full wages with them. The workmen repined, and faid. 
We have laboured all the day, and this man laboured but 
two hours: and thou haft given him full wages with us. 
The king faid to them. This man hath laboured ?nore in 
two hours, than you have done all day. So R. Bon, la- 
boured more in the law in twenty-nine years, than an- 
other in a hundred, i^c.'' 

T ritorious 

274 Ontbe? A 'R. A B L E 

ritorious of the gift ? and {hould he receive 
others to work half or a quarter of the day, 
and give them the fame rev^ard, would not 
his bounty and generofity ftrike the hearts of 
all with gratitude ?ind love, and could any 
repine at the proceedings of fo generous a ma- 
iler ? — Let us refer the cafe to God's deal- 
ings with us: and then we fhall fee that the 
gift ofChrifly the privileges of the Gofpel, and 
the promifes of heaven, bear no proportion at 
all to the moft imperfect, wretched fervices of 
finful men ! The gift is perfeftly free, and 
to fee others fhare in the liberal bounty fo) 
much above all our delerts,. fhould dilate our 
hearts with joy, and fill them with thankful- 
nefs to the adorably gracious Giver ! 

But 3dly, to obviate all objedions to hi& 
juftice, our Lord opens the reafons of this 
murmsring and grudging : it proceeds from 
an evil eye : envy is at the bottom, a curfed 
paffion, which is late eradicated even from. 
the breads of faints — Is thine eye evil becaufe I 
am good? What a caufe of envy is here:: 
even the unfpeakable goodnefs of God /—And 
this is for the moft part the foundation of that 
accurfed pafTion — Mens eyes are evil toward 
their fellow-labourers, becaufe God's eye is> 
upon them for good : his gifts, blefTings and 
graces in and to tkem are for the moft part 


Of the Labourers in the Vineyard, 275 
the obje61' of the evil man's envy— Oh how 
vile a fin is that, which thus bafely ftrikes at 
the mofl beautiful and bleffed of our God's 
attributes, even at his goodnefs, his free un- 
merited goodnefs to finners ! — Well may they, 
tho'/r/? in calling, gifts and dignities, exped 
to be lafty who harbour and encourage fuch a 
malevolent difpofition againft this good man 
of the houfe, this glorious Houfholder, who 
from his large beneficence ^ giveth us all 
T 2 things 

* It deferves continually to be remarked by us, in ho- 
nour of this beneficence, this univerfal love and exceeding 
great kindnefs of our God and Father, that none of thefe 
labourers, (who from the firji became lajiy who, tho* 
called by him, were not chofen) became laji thro' znyfore^ 
ordination or abfolute decree of his, or were reprobated^ not 
chofeny by any dreadful fentence fecluding them from fal- 
vation, even from eternity ! They became lajl, thro' their 
own malevolence^ they were not chofen^ thro* their abufe of 
the grace given them ! Other caufe we hear not of : 
let us be careful how we prefume to affign any other ; 
how we wrong the unfpeakable love and goodnefs ot God 
by fuppofing him the author of man's dovvnfal and dam- 
nation ! He IS love : and he deftreth all men to be favcd \ 
If you obey his call, believe on his Son Jefus Chrij}^ and 
live in obedience to his commands — never trouble yourfelf 
about your predeftination : you are certainly fafe : but if 
you will not hear the cal', nor obey it, if you pretend to 
accept it for bye ends and worldly views, if you are idle 
in the vineyard, or raife confufions, herefies and fchifms 
in it, and other works of the flefli : if you truft in yourfelf 
that you are righteous and defpife others, are proud, mur- 
muring, boafting — Talk not of faith and predeftination; 
you are certainly no believer^ and fo certainly fhall never fee 


276 Of the PARABLE 

things richly to enjoy here, and hath given us 
his dear Son to merit eternal bleffednefs for us 
hereafter ! 

Warned therefore by thefe confiderations, 
let us, as the only method to extinguiih this 
hateful paffion in our breads, adore the in- 
finite love and goodnefs of our God mani- 
fefted in his gracious difpenfations towards a 
world of finners : and while we are anxious 
to be made partakers of the bleffings of his 
everlafting Gofpel of comfort and grace, let 
us rejoice to fee others admitted to the fame 
divine privileges with ourfelves, and more 
efpecially let us rejoice over thofe recovered 
to the vineyard of our Lord, who have ftood 
all the day idle, id-e to him^ tho* fadly buHed 
in the works of fin : let us rejoice more over 
thofe that were loft, than they that were fafe 
in the fold, that our joy may be like that of 
the angels above, who triumph moft in the 
recovery of repenting finners ! 

Confident, that none who y?^;?i /V/t^, can 
ever receive the blefTed recompence of reward, 
let us be careful to employ ourfelves diligently 

God. For without that/^z/VZ?, which worketh by love^ 
no man can fee him. Be zealous therefore for evangelical 
repentance^ faith, and obedience, and leave confulting God*s 
decrees, till vcu have better means and opportunities cf fo 
doing in his cclsftial kingdom. 


Of the Labou7'ers in the Vineyard, 277 

in the vineyard, to v/ork the works of God 
while it is called to-day, left if we delay and 
be idle, any of us fhould be hardened by the 
deceitfulnefs of fin. And to encourage us in 
the work 3 — bleffed be his adorable name, — . 
the gracious mafter whom we ferve hathpro- 
pofed to us a glorious reward as far above all 
we can deferVe, as his omnipotence is far from 
our weaknefs ! we may with fafety and fatis- 
fadion chear ourfelves all the days of our life, 
and amidft all our labours, with the comfort- 
able profpedl of this divine reward : our Lord 
himfelf hath fet us the example, who for the 
joy that was fet before him endured the crofs ! 
we may place the crown of righteoufnefs in 
view, that fo we may refift manfully, fight 
the good fight of faith, ftagger not thro* un- 
belief, endure^ as feeing him that is invifible^ 
and fupport ourfelves under every trial, and 
in every temptation, with the recolledion that 
the time is but fhort, and that ow' light af^ 
Jii6fio77S which are but for a moment^ work out 
for us afar more exceeding and eternal weight of 
glory I 

But above all things let us take care, not 
to fuppofe this reward due to us of right, or 
that the merit of our good fervices have juftly 
deferved it at the hands of God : humbled 
evermore under the deepeft fenfe of cur own 
T 3 un^ 

27S 0?2 the? A R A B L E 

unworthinefs, let us confefs that grace, free 
grace alone h^m given us the earneft, and 
can give us' the pofleflion of glory ! Let us 
acknowledge, that it is lawful for God to do 
what he will with his own, who is an abfo- 
lute fovereign, and therefore may deal with 
us his creatures, even as he fees fit: let us 
acknowledge that he is no man's debtor ^*, but 
that all men are debtors to him ; they owe 
him all they have, and all they can do — and 
remembring this, let us with fmcerity deplore 
our own unprofitablenefs in his fight ; and 
glory in nothing before him, fave in his in- 
expreflible, inefl:imable love, who hath given 
his Son to die for our fins : upon whofe all* 
fufficient merits we may rely, and upon the 
prevalence of whofc intercefllon, we may 
plead a right to the glories of heaven : fince 
he hath fully fatisfied almighty juftice, and is 
Me to Jave them to the uttermojiy who come unto 
God by him^ feeing he ever liveth to make inter ^ 
cejj'ion Jor them : to perfuade them to which, 
he hath declared to our eternal comfort, that 
he came not into the world to condemn the world -^ 
but that whofoever believeth on him, Jloould not 
peri/lj but have everlafting life, 

* This is given in fome Bibles as the fcope of the pa- 
rable *. 'tis one great point of dod^rine in it. See Henry on 
Matt. XX, ijand ii. i. 


ty the Labourers in the Vineyard, 27a 
And to conclude : influenced by that love 
of God to man, which fliines fo brightly 
throughout all the Gofpel, let us one and all 
labour to be made partakers thereof, and to 
love him^ becaufe he firfl loved us I Let us nei- 
ther abufe his mercy ^ nor hi?> jujiice : his mercy ^ 
by delaying to accept the gracious calls offer'd 
to us, and by putting off our repentance from 
day to day : who knows but this call and this 
day may be his laft? and then what will all our 
refolutions of repentance avail us ? — Truth, 
fome were called at the eleventh hour : and 
this is comfortable news to old and advanced 
finners : to them it fpeaks thus: " Even yet 
the mercy of God waits for thee : tho* thou 
art grown old in fin, it is not yet too late, re- 
pent, turn, and be faved: thy God longeth 
for thee : he defireth thy falvation : hafte to 
his vineyard, accept this his ^aft call, thy day 
is declining, the night cometh on apace 3 
death is hafting towards thee with mighty 
flrides : eternity lies open before thee — an 
eternity of blifs, or an eternity of woe — - 
awake, and be wife, for who can dwell with 
everlafting burnings ?" But tho' this call is 
offered at the eleventh hour, that none might 
defpair : yet it is abfurd prefumption to fin on, 
in expectation of fuch a call, or in purpofe of 
future amendment : fince none can aflure 
T 4 them- 

28o On the F AR ABLE 

themfelves of longer life ; and fince the more 
and the longer we continue in fin, far harder 
is it, to break the yoke, to get free from 
fatan's chain, and to undertake the laborious 
work of true repentance. To day therefore 
harden not your hearts : to day may be the 
very laft time, the Spirit of God will ftrive 
with thee : and fhould he leave thee, Ofinnerj 
then thou can'fl; never repent : to day maybe 
the laft time, thou may'ft have an offer of 
grace: and if thou refufeft it, thou art loft 
for ever. Death's meffenger may arreft thee 
inftantly : a fever may lay hold of thee, a 
fall may demolifh thee -, in a moment thou 

may'ft plunge into eternity and who would 

venture fuch a momentous matter on an iffue 
fo dangerous, fo uncertain ? 

Oh how happy are you, my beloved bre- 
thren, who have accepted the Gofpel call, 
and are labouring by the grace of God, to 
do the works of him that fent you : he ftead- 
faft, continue immoveable, always and daily 
more and more abounding in the works of the 
Lord, as knowing, with the utmoft certainty, 
that your labour (hall not be in vain in the 
Lord. — But as the others his meny, fo take 
heed that you offend not again ft the /V//?/V^ of 
your God, by repining at any of his difpenfa- 
tions or dealings with you, or by endeavouring 


Of the- Labourers in the Vineyard. 28 1 

to enter too much into the infcrutable fecrets 
of his deep and hidden decrees, his wonder- 
ful dealings with the fons of men. Be con- 
tent to difcharge your own parts faithfully: 
leave the iffue to your bleffed mafter^ wait 
humbly his good pleafure 3 and attempt not 
to reafon with him, or to murmur at him, be- 
caufe his ways at prefent appear not to yon 
right and equal. The day is coming when 
all will be fet clear ; then the poor will fee 
why God thought fit to place them in that 
ftate, rather than a more exalted one: and 
why it was beft for their fouls eternal good : 
then the affiiBed will fee, why God thought 
fit, continually to chaftife and correifl them, 
and why it was better for them tofuffer with 
Chrijl^ than to enjoy uninterrupted profperity: 
then the early labourers, the youthful fervants 
of God who have borne the heat and burden 
of the day, will adore his wife dealings with 
them: while thofe called at the eleventh hour, 
will ackncwledge the exceeding greatnefs and 
bounty of his free redeeming love ! — Then 
all together will fee and know how inexpref- 
fibly greater is the reward in blifs, than they 
could have hoped, than they could have ex- 
pelled : how far beyond all they looked for : 
then they will learn to defpife all the little 
fufFerings of this life: and efteem thegreateft 


282 On the PARABLE, &t. 
evils light in comparifon of the revealed glory ! 
then will they learn to defpife all their own 
poor merits and righteoufnefs ; and wonder, 
whence it was, that they could have done fo 
little for a God, fo gracious, for a Saviour fo 
bountiful ! whofe fatherly kindnefs, and un- 
fpeakable love, ages, eternal ages will not fuf- 
lice to glorify and extol : whofe free mercy 
and rich grace in Chrift JeftiSy it will be the 
bufinefs and delight of all their fouls to ce- 
lebrate from everlafting to everlafling. Amen. 


On the P A R A B L E 

Of the importunate Widow. 

St. Lukexvili. i. 

And he [pake a Parable unto them^ to this Endj 
that Men ought always to pray and not to faints 

fXMX^HERE is no one duty in chri- 
Q 'p w ftianity the pradlice of which our 
y^ ^ Saviour preffes upon us more frc- 

k.)^)^)8(jM( quentlythan the duty of prayer."* 
And there is no one duty to which he hath 
added fo many and fo great promifes, the better 
to incite us to a diligent performance of it. Call 
upon me in the day of trouble^ faith God, and 
I will deliver thee^ and thou Jhall glorify me. 
Verily^ verily^ I fay unto yoUy whatsoever ye 

* Thefe words are from the beginning of Bp Brown^ 
rigs fermonon this fubjed — whom confult. v, i. p. 594^ 


284 On //jf' P A R A B L E 

Jhall ajk the Father in my Jiame^ that 'will he 
give you, A/k^ and ye JJjall receive^ that your 
joy ?nay be fiilL This is the confidence, that we 
haije in hini^ faith St. 'John, that if we afk arty 
thing according to his wi/l, he heareth us ; aitd 
if W)e know that he hear us : what fo ever we afk^ 
we know that we have the pet. tions we defircd 
of him. 

To (liew us the holy qualifications and dif- 
pofitions of mind neceffary to render our 
prayers acceptable, he makes ufe of different 
fimilitudes : 1 ft, That of a child, craving food 
from its earthly parent, to fliew us the ne- 
ceflity of a fimple dependance, and full con« 
fidence in our heavenly father. 2d, To fliew 
us the neceffity oi Jorgivenefs in prayer, he 
makes ufe of the lively fimilitude of a gracious 
mafter and an unmerciful fervant : 3d, To 
fhew us the necefllty of humility^ he makes ufe 
of the example of a felf-righteous-pharifee 
and an humbled publican : and 4thly, to fhew 
us the neceffity of perfeverance and importu- 
7iity in prayer, he informs us in the prefent 
Parable of the vidlory, which a poor afflided 
widow gain'd by their means over an unjuft 
judge, who neither feared God, nor regarded 

The human mind is .but too apt to defpond, 
efpecially when afihdtions prefs hard, and 


On the importunate WidonzK 285 
prayers feem unaccompanied with any bleffing 
from above. Mens faith tried thro* a length 
of time begins to fail ; and when infidelity- 
can once perfuade the heart, that God neither 
hears nor regards the prayers offered up to 
him, it is but a very eafy ftep into the total 
negled: of them : when thro' a long feafon, 
they appear to have been wholly unavailing, 
and not ferv'd at all to the removal of thofe 
evils which we groan under ; we are ready to 
cry out, God hath J or got ten to be gracious : and 
fo ceafe from the watch, leave the helm, and 
let the veifel drive at the mercy of winds and 

To obviate which furmifes, and to ftrength- 
en the faith of his difciples under fuch trials, 
Chrifii as the evangelifl affures us, deliver'd the 
prefent Parable : wherein he teacheth us, that 
tho' God fliould fometimes feem averfe to 
our petitions, and we fo far from a deliverance 
fliould, even while we continue to pray, fall 
deeper and deeper into diftrefs, fo that our 
prayers appear fruitlefs, and our groanings un- 
heard : yet ought we, Aei, yet is it ablblutely 
necejj'ary for us to perjevere with invincible 
conftancy of Faith in prayer. For if the im- 
portunate^ perjevering prayer of a^ poor JVidozv 
at length prevailed upon an uiijuji judge to do 
herjufticej what may not ihQ righteous, the 


286 O;^ /y^^ P A R A B L E 

children of God by Faith cxpeft, from a juji 
and holy God and Father ^ the avenger of his 
chofen people ? — 

Therefore St. Luke tells us, that the prefent 
Parable was fpoken by our Saviour ^pofTo to 
this endy that he might thus by a lively exam- 
ple (hew that men ought always {'kuvtot^) to pray : 
and that we may rightly underftand the true 
meaning and import of the word always^ he 
adds, and not to faint ^ [j.v\ snacnisiv: the word 
is remarkable : and fignifies not to fai?2t un- 
der prefTurcs, and perfecutions, not to yield to 
evils, and defpond under them : to be fo wholly 
wearied out with them, as to give place to 
them, and to ceafe from prayer, as unavailing 
to procure relief. St. Paul frequently ufes 
the word in this fenfe. Ephef, iii. 13. I de- 
fire that ye faint not at my tribulations for 
you. Again, we faint not under our afflic- 
tions, tho' our outward man perilh. And he 
exhorts the Chriftlan fufferers, Heb.xiu 3. Not 
to be wearied^ 2.\\iijaint in their minds. 

So Chrijly delivered this Parable, to this n;^ 
or purpofe : this is the main fcope and defign 
of it : that men ought, always, co?7/lantly, and 
per/even ng/y, to continue in the ufe of prayer 5 
and not to be fo wearied and faint ^ in their 
minds, (thro' the troubles and afflictions lying 
hard upon them, and for a deliverance from 


Of the importunate Widow, 287 

which, they pray,) as to lay afide, neglect, 
and wholly omit this moft neceffary duty i 
which is of perpetual obligation : Seeing 
the delay of afliftance from above, fo far from 
giving caufe to faintnefs in or a total difufe of 
prayer, ought rather to quicken our impor- 
tunity and make us more earneft and urgent 
with God for relief. — To fhew us the rea- 
fonablenefs whereof, as well as the prevalency 
of earned and importunate prayer, and the 
abfolute neceffity there is for men thus to 
continue in prayer, and not to omit the ufe 
of it, our Saviour adds the Parable^ wherein 
the great truth to be inculcated is evidently 
fhewn by the contrary. 

There was in a city a judge, which feared not 
God, nor regarded man : and there was in that 
city, a widow, and fhe came unto him, fay- 
ing, avenge me of mine adverfary ; and he 
would not for a while : but the woman con- 
tinuing to prefs and importune him, he faid 
afterwards within himfelf, though I fear not 
God, nor regard man, and fo am influenced 
by neither of thefe motives to avenge this 
widow : yet becaufe flie giveth me trouble> 
by her clamour, and importunity, I will 
avenge her : left by her continual comings 
tig TfXoe 6p%oiut6v;t her praying always, fhe weary 
me. *' The original v/ord here U7rw7r/«fvi, fig- 


288 0/2 //&^ PARABLE 

nifies properly to beat on the face, and par- 
ticularly under the eyes, fo as to make the 
parts black and blue/' — In the prefent paf- 
fage It has a metaphorical fenfe, and fignifies 
to give great pain, fuch as arifes from fevere 
beating. The meaning therefore is, that the 
tmeafy feelings which this widow raifed in 
the judge's breaft, by the moving reprefenta- 
tions, which flie gave him of her diftrefs, af- 
fedled him to fuch a degree, that he could 
not bear it, and therefore to be rid of thefe 
feelings he refolved to do her juflice. And 
the paflage underftood in this fenfe has a pe- 
culiar advantage, as it throws a beautiful light 
on our Lord's argument in ver. 6, 7. and 
lays a proper foundation for the conclu- 
lion, which it contains."* 

For hear, faid the Lord, what the unjujl 
judge faith : namely, that becaufe this widow 
troubleth him, by her earneft and importu- 
nate petitions, he will avenge her 5 left fhe 
ceafe not to befeech him, and to touch and 
affedt even his hard heart by the moving and 
frequent reprefentations of her diftrefs ; — and 
fhall not GOD avenge his owji ele5f, which 
cry day and night, unto him, though he do 
indeed bear long with them f though he feem 

* See Mackmght\ harmony on the place. 


Of the importunate Widow, 289 

to refrain himfelf from them for a while, to 
hold his peace and afjli5l them very jore ? ]fai. iv. 
J I. For the prayer of the humble^ or afPiidled^ 
faith the wife fon of Sirach, pierceth the clouds^ 
and till it come Jiigh be 'mil not be comforted^ and 
will fiot depart y till the mofl High fh all behold to 
judge rigkteoifly and execute judgment. For the 
Lord will not be flacky Jieither will the Lord he 
patient towards them^ ^li \lv^ ju.axpo0w|xvj<rfi i% u'jroiQy 
till he hath fmit ten aj under the lotus of the unmer- 
ciful and repayed vengeance to the heathen^ till be 
hath judged the caufe of bis people and made them 
rejoice in his mercy *. 

I tell you, faith ourLord, that he will avenge 
them, and th^tjpeedilyysv Ttfi%f/; even as St,Peter 
declares, '^Beloved, be not ignorant of this one 
thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thou- 
iand years, and a thoufand years as one day : 
the Lord is not flack concerning his promife 
as fome men countflacknefs : but heareth long 

* The following verfes from the ad book of Maccabees^ 
vi. 13 — 16, may ferve to illuftrate the expreffion of hearing 
long^ &c. in the text. ' For it is a token of his great good- 
nefs when wicked doers are not fuiFered any long time, but 
forthwith punifhed. For not as with other nations whom 
the Lord patiently forbeareth to punifh, uvxi^-svn [A.xxfcOv[/.cotj 
till they be come to the fulnefs ot their fms, fo dealeth -he 
with us, left that being come to the height of Cm, after- 
wards he fliould rake vengeance of us. And therefore he 
never withdraweth his mercy fiom us ; and tho' he puinfri 
with adverfity, yet doth he never forfake his people.' 

N^ 7. Vol. III. U with 

290 OnibeV A% ABLE 

mth usy ikayipu^vp^si £^'v)|x«« — not willing that any 
fhould periHi, but that all (hould come to re- 
pentance." But tho' thus long-fuffering, he 
will at length avenge his people, faith our 
Lord : and, as his apoftle declares, the day 
of the Lord will come as a thiej in the nighty as^ 
fuddenly and unexpededly, in the which the 
heavens fl:all pafs away with a great noife, &c. 
NevertheleJL adds our Saviour, clofing the pa- 
rable, tho* God will thus furely, fuddenly,. 
and fpeedily avenge his own ele<^, yet this 
notwithftanding, when the Son of man cometh 
jh all he find faith upon earth ? As much as to 
fay, the certainty and exped:ation of this fud- 
den, fpeedy coining of the Son of man, ought 
by all means to keep men fteadfafl: in the 
faith, and diligent on the watch : yet fuch is 
the corruption of human nature, and fuch 
ihall be the prevalence of infidelity, that, 
when the Son of man fhall come either, firft, 
to take vengeance on the Jewifh nation, or fe- 
condly, to judge the whole world, he fhali 
Icarce find any fairh left amongft men upon^ 
earth, the love of many waxing cold thro' 
the abounding iniquity, and the times being 
fo totally and univerially degenerate. See 
2 Fet, chap. iii. 

Such is the parable ; wherein we are fliewn, 
Id J what is meant by the duty of praying al- 


Of the hnportunafe TVidow, 2 9 1 

ways, and Ildly, the abfolute neceffity of that 
duty : to the performance of which we have, 
Illdly, fome very lively motives and ftrong 
encouragements given us. 

Before I fpeak of either of thefe,- it may be 
neceffaryjuft in brief to fhew you the connec- 
tion of the parable. We render the firfl 
words, And he fpake a parable : it is in the 
original EAsys As na; — But ?noreover he fpake : 
and the particle Ae, But^ plainly fliews that 
this parable has a relation to what went be- 
fore in the former chapter : where oui^ Sa- 
viour is fpeaking of his future coming to de- 
ftroy Jerufalem^ and fo, under that figure, 
of his future coming to judge the world. 
Wherefore, as fome have obferved, the pa- 
rable in its firft application may be referred 
to the Chriftians, w^ho were under grievous 
perfecutions and troubles from the Jews, be- 
fore the deftruftion of their place and nation, 
an event which, as being ftrongly confirmative 
of the truth of Chriji^ was therefore much 
longed for by all believers : and fecondarily, 
it may be referred to all, who in every age 
and time wait for the coming of the Lord 
Jefus in glory, and continue in faith and 
prayer amidft every oppofition and every trial. 

It is the duty of all fuch, Ift, to pray al- 
ways^ and not to faints that is, to continue 
U 2 con- 

2^1 On the P A R A B L li 

conftant, regular and perfevering in prayer. 
Oblerve, the point in hand is not concerning 
the tn^e nature of prayer, or the feveral forts 
of it, but merely of its external performance : 
which is not left to our own choice to be ufed 
occafionally or merely as we fliall fee fit, much 
lefs to be wholly omitted, but is to be con- 
tinual and regular: we mud pray always, not 
to-day and omit it to morrow -, not in the 
morning and omit it at night ; not on the 
fabbath and omit it all the reft of the week: 
but every day, day and Tiight, always. The 
word which we render always^ expreffes no 
more than this injohn xviii. 20. J^Jus anfwer^^ 
cd ; I [pake Openly in the world -, arid in the tem- 
ple, whither the Jews ALW/H^S refort : that 
is, where they conjlantly and regularly come to 
perform divine worfliip. And fo the morning 
and evening facrificcs, hccaufe of their con- 
flant and regular ufe, are called, by a ftill 
ftronger expreffion, a continual burnt-offer- 
ing"*. Hence it is faid of the aged Amia^ 
that (he departed not froifi the temple^ u'a afiqetro, 
tilt Jerqued God with fajlings and prayt^^s day 
and night : that is, (lie did notyt'/;^n-?/fi' herfelf 
from the fervice of the temple, at iht /lated 
and regular hours of morning and evening 
prayer: for thatfl^e continued not akmys in the 

'■'■ Exod. XX I \'. 42. 


Of the importunate Widow. 293 

temple, is manifeft from hence, that, we read, 
fhe came into the temple, to attend upon this 
continual duty, at that inftant when the pa- 
rents of Jefus were prefenting him to the 
Lord. See L^/.('^ ii. 37, 38. And fo in the 
prefent parable, the woman is reprefented as 
coming continually^ ei^TOTsKog^, that is, con- 
ftantly and frequently : and the original word 
anfwers to always, in the firft verfe : the eleSi 
alfo are faid to cry day and night unto God, 
which plainly (hews, what is meant by pray- 
ing always, even praying, conftantly, regu- 
larly, and perfeveringly. 

It is not to be fuppofed that the woman was 
continually kneeling before the judge: or the 
eledl all night and all day on their knees be- 
fore God : tho' floe came continually to him, 
made her conftant and repeated vifits, and 
tho' the ele5l ceafe not to cry both by night 
and by day, every night and every day, mak- 
ing their requefts known unto God. But we 
fliould remark, that as the woman muft have 
had her mind intent upon the matter in hand, 
and have been apt to fall into petitions upon 
every fight of the judge : fo alfo true prayer is 
in the heart, it is the defire of the heart 

* Helleniftica locutlo, inqult Groilus, ex Hebraeo ni»j'7 
quod fignificat /)^r/)^^w5, ut Pfal. ix. 19. xiii. j, &c. in qJi- 
Buslocis etiam LXX habcnt £icT£?>or, perpetuo. 

U 3 turned 

294 On the F A R A B L E 

turned to God, which defire muft and will, 
in every true Chriftian, vent itfelf on every 
occafion and every remenibrance of the objed: 
defired.— In this fenfe Cornelius, the devout 
centurion, is faid to have prayed to God al- 
way: which muft neceffarily mean, to have 
been regular at the ftated hours of prayer, 
and conilant in the ufe pf it, as well as to have 
had his heart's defire continually turned to 
God, and an aptitude to fall into holy ejacu- 
lations. In this fenfe it is, that our Saviour 
commands, Watch ye therefore, ajid pray al- 
ways : and that St. Paid exhorts the Thejfalo- 
niam to pray without ceafaig% and again, ad- 
yifes the Philippians in words which well ex- 
plain the former, to be careful, anxioufly, un- 
eafily, careful for tiothing : but in all things by 
prayer and fupplication to make their requejls 
known unto God. Hence he exhorts the Ro^ 
mans to continue infant in prayer, and the £• 
phefians, to pray always with all prayer and fup* 
plication, in the Spirit, a?2d to watch thereunto 
With all perfeverance , 

From all which, the meaning of praying 
always, and the main fcope of the parable i^ 
very obvious ; namely, that it is intended to 
v:\Q\AQ^.i^ frequency, conftancy and perfeverance 
in the duty of prayer : and not according to 
the ftri<5l fenfe of the y/ords, continual pray-r 

Of the importunate Widow , 295 

ing *, which is impoffible to human nature 
and incompatible with the neceffary difcharge 
of the duties of our ftation. Hi o pray always^ 
is to pray at all the regular and appointed 
times of prayer, day and 7tight^ whether in 
the clofctj the family, or the temple : — it is to 
pray all the days of our life, even to the end: — 
it is to pray in and for every thing ; a Chri- 
ftian fhould neither begin nor end any under- 
taking without prayer : — it is to pray con- 
ftantly, never omitting or growing %veary of 
the duty, as unavailing and ineffcdual : — and 
it is to have the heart always turned in defire 
to God, in an aptitude or fitnefs to pray, in an 
holy frame — praying always ^ in the fpirit : for 
we fhould never forget, that prayer is an ///- 
ward 2iS well as an outward work : the fruit of 
the heart as well as of the lips : and fo may 
properly enough be filled the breath of the 
chrirtian life : in this fenfe it may be offered 
continually to God, as the heart of a truly re- 
generate Chriftian is always turned to him. 

* Euthyfmus rtmzxV^^Sempsr^ 'TravrcTi , hie non Infummo 
rigore accipiendum eft, Ted commode, ut fignificet ora- 
tionls perfeverantiam, non continuitatem. ImpofTibile eft 
enim homini ita omni tempore orare, ut nunquam oratio- 
nem aliqua al.a adtione interrumpat. Fieri autem poteft 
& omnibus curandum eft, ut congruis temporibus pro ca- 
dem re orare perfcvercmus, donee obtineamus. 

U A A 

296 071 the PARABLE 

*' A man, fays ^ef?iellc *, may juftly be faict 
to pray always, when he has God always pre- 
fent to his mind, and always defires him, 
whether he do it Handing or kneeling, in reft 
or labour, grief or joy." To which purpofe 
Ephraim Syrus gives this excellent rule : 
" Whether you work or are going to lie down, 
whether you ftand ftill or are going a journey: 
w^hether you eat or. drink, whether you are 
going to fleep or are waking ; take heed, you 
do not forget to pray : whether you are at 
church, at home, or in the field, whether 
you are at a feaft or otherwife engaged, ftill 
pray and converfe with God •f." 

* He obferves, to pray always and Tpeak but little, is 
One of the paradoxes of the Gofpel : this duty requires 
little of the tongue, much of the heart. 

f See Dr. Hor?teck's excellent Treatife entitled, The 
happy Af.eticj or The Beji Exercife — particularly, Exercife 
t\\Q firji : by which you will be enabled to pracSlife th s 
duty ; as he has fubjoined fhort ejaculations l\iited to al- 
moft every occafion. Permit me alfo to refer you to the 
excellent Mr. Hervcys Theron and JJfpafio^ V. 2. p. 297, 
&c. where he fpeaks of ejaculatory praver, and gives fome 
remarkable inflances of its fucccfs — particularly in N^he^ 
m'lah. %ZQ Nehem.y^x. 4. and David^ fee 7, Sa?n. xv. 31, 
xvii. ? 3. This is the prayer, fays the pious and incom- 
parable author, which all the devils in hell cannot with- 
lland : — this is the prayer which hriiigs down fomewhat 
of hcaijen into the heart ; in v/hich I would myfelf defire to 
ab.>un'.i : and would earnel^ly recommend to all my ac- 
quaintai'ice and all my readers. 


0/ the importunate Widow. 297 

In this fenfe, by holy ejaculations breath'd 
from a devout heart, we muft alfo pray con- 
tinually unto God — but not to the negled of 
a conftant and perfevering application of foul 
to God, in all the offices of public and private 
devotion, the duty more immediately taught 
in this parable : we muft by no means omit 
the performance of this duty } but be careful 
and regular in the difcharge of it : more efpe- 
cially in times of trial and affliftion, when our 
adverfaries, fin or fatan, evil men or evil 
things opprefs and injure us : then muft we 
become more and more earneft and importu- 
nate with our heavenly Father, inftead of 
finking beneath the burden, and fainting be- 
neath the heavy load of our afflidions : for 
men ought always to pray and 7iot to faint : and 
if thus we cry to God inceffantly, continuing 
inftant in prayer ; tho' he feem to delay, yet 
will he at length avenge his own eledl:, who 
cry unto him day and night. In full confi- 
dence upon which, let us never fail to implore 
his divine and gracious hand to protefl; us, 
fince no other hand can proted^ us ; fince if 
we do not fo call, earneftly and importu- 
nately, he will never avenge us ; and fince if 
we will but afk and implore, if we will but 
thus earneftly and importunately cry to him, 
we fhall ever find him, far more ready to 


298 On tbe P ARABLE 

give, and grant our petitions, than we are 
ready to afk and humble ourfelves before 
him : and this we fhall fee beautifully repre^ 
J- fented, when in the lid place, we fpeak of 
^ • the neceffity of thus offering up our prayers to 
bim, as (hewn by the prefent parable. 

The parable, St. Zzr/^^ tells us, was delivered 
to this very end^ for this purpofe, and with 
this defign, namely, to iTiew us the neceffity 
of perfeverance and continuance in prayer ^ he 
fpake a parable to this end, ^rpo^ToA^^y, that 
men ought always to pray and not to faint ^ nor 
be wearied in their minds, tho' afBidions prefs 
hard, and God even feem to hide his face 
and not to fee or regard. And this necejjity is 
clearly jfhewn to us, by the cafe of the widow : 
flie defired to be avenged of, or rather to have 
ju/iice ^0;?^ her* again ft her opprefQng adver- 
sary : flie defired her wrongs to be redreffed, 
and the injuries, wherewith fhe was perfe- 
cuted, removed and righted. In order to 
which fhe applies to the chief magiftrate of 
her city, the judge appointed to avenge the 
fatherlefs and widow, and to fee that they 
who are in need and necefiity have right. 
But he was an unjuft judge. Ht feared not 
God, and fo was influenced by no motives of 

piety, ' 

Of the importunate Widow, 299 

piety, nor did he regard man^ and fo was in- 
fluenced by no motives of benevolence and 
humanity to do juftice and to relieve the op- 
prefled. The poor widow therefore had little 
to hope frorn him : and her application to 
him fucceeded juft as one would have ex- 
pected : he took no notice at all of her for a 
time, and refufed wholly to be intreated of 
her. — Had it been any wonder now, if flic 
had wholly dropt her purpofe, and fat down 
forrowful and diftreft under the fad kx\k of 
the utter unavailingnefs of her petitions ? — But 
inftead of this, you fee her rather whetted by 
refufals, and fo far from omitting her peti- 
tions, continuing them with fervor, importu- 
nity, and perfeverance. Her diftrefles preft 
hard upon her : her unjuft adverlary afflided 
and troubled her : but fo far from jainting 
and finking beneath the burden, fo far from 
dejponding and ceafing to cry alopd for juftice, 
ftie was ftung up and ftimulatc^, as it were, 
by thefe, to greater earneftnefs and clamour : 
her wants increafed her cry : and her conti- 
nual cry at length prevailed even with this 
unjuft, hard-hearted judge. 

Here you fee the abfolute iiecejjity of im- 
portunate and perievering prayer, as taught 
us by our Saviour : had this woman, when 
f epulfed by the judge once and again, omitted 


3CO Onthe? ARABLE 

afterwards to come and importune him ; had 
fhe fat down difcon folate and hopelefs, and 
not wearied his threfifiold with her continual 
coming, and his ear with her continual cry ; 
flie had never gained the juftice on her ad- 
verfary which (he fought, but had been left 
to the oppreffion and injuries of her opprefTor. 
— So we, when we defire to be avenged of 
our adverfary, when we groan beneath the 
weight of any mward or ouiivard evil, when 
afflidions, perfecations or fin, vex and trou- 
ble us with all their florms, muft learn, never 
to faint nor be weary in our minds, tho' God 
feemeth to delay, tho' our prayers are unfuc- 
cefsful, and the evil unremoved. God wills 
that we continue in prayer : unlefs we perfe- 
vere and cry unto him importunatelyand with- 
out ceafing, he will not avenge us. He hath 
made it abfolutely neceffary for us to do fo, at 
once to try our patience, and to perfect our 
refignation to his divine will *. If we difcon- 
tinue our prayers to him, if the fenfe of our 

* God will have us pray always^ fiith St. Chryfojlom^ 
that by the frequency of our addrelles wo maybe rendered 
familiar to him ; that we may be humbled while we pray, 
;and often call to remembrance our offences againft him. — 
The fame fine writer remarks, that praver is as neceffary 
to the fpiritual Wie^ as meat, drmk and cloathing to the 
animal. He is very large on the fubjeci in his book De 
Orando Deo, and in^his 19 Horn, on Matt. 6. 


Of the. importunate Widow. ^ o i 

forrows, and the weight of our afflidlons ren- 
der us impatient and repining, and flop the 
progrefs of our prayers to heaven, if we omit 
to tread his courts and to pour our fupplica- 
tions into his ears 3 he will neither hear nor 
regard, and we (hall be left to the oppreffion 
and miferies which we deplore; under which 
we fink defponding ; from which there is no 
dehverance fave by the almighty power of 
God ; and which power there is no engaging 
in our defence otherwife than by fervent, 
conftant, perfevering prayer, and full depend- 
ance upon him in all trials and afflidlions. So 
that hence the indifpenfable neceffity of the 
duty is abundantly manifeft *. 

Where men are found diligent in the prac- 
tice of it, as certainly as God is true, fo cer- 
tainly will he in his good time, (which he 
knows far better than we) take our caufe into 
his hand, and plead it in judgment and juftice 
with thofe that rife up againft us : fo certainly 
will he avenge his own eleul which cry day and 
night unto him : which naturally leads me to 77 
the Hid and laft thing propofed, namely, the 
motives and encouragements we have to per- 
form this duty, to pray always, which are 00- 

* See Pricaus his remarks on the ift and 5th verfe of 
the prefent chapter. 


302 0;? /^ P A R A B L E 

pioufly fuggefted to us in the reddition, that 
our Saviour gives us of the parable. 

For, hear^ /aid the Lord^ what the ujzjuji 
judge faith : namely, that becaufe this w^idow 
troubleth him, he w^ill avenge her, left by 
her continual coming flie weary him — and 
/hall not GOD, the juft and fupreme judge 
of all the earth — ave?ige bis own eleEi^ — his 
own faithful people, his eleft by faith, his 
own beloved children — which cry day and night 
unto him^ fervently, conflantly, perfeveringly ? 
tho he bear long with thejn ^ ? — He puts it by 
way of interrogation, to fhew the abfufdity of 
the contrary fuppofition : and this had been 
enough to affiire us of the certainty of finding 
juftice from God. But that we might have 
ftrong confolation, cur Saviour anfwers his 
own queftion with a ftrong affirmative ; 1 tell 
yoUy ly the incarnate Truth, the w^r^:/ of God, 
declare unto you, that he will avenge them 
fpeedily : his vengeance (hdWJbon, too foon for 
the wicked, &nd fi^ddenly -f fall upon them, 
Neverthele/s when the Son ojman cometh^ to take 
vengeance on the wicked, and to reward the 

* Concerning t\\\s vengeance, (ce Deut.xxxiu 35,41 — 
43. Of the fcarcity of the faithful at that time, fee I/aL 
Jix. 16 — 19, where we read alfo of the vengeance. Of 
the fpeed of that vengeance, fee Ifai.lx., 22. 

f So much feems to be implied in the original « t«%£^. 
Confult Cocceius on the place. 


Of the impofttmate PFidcnv. 30 j 

righteous, JJja/l he find faith on the earth ? He 
will fcarce find any faith, as to this great e- 
vent more efpecially, remaining amongft men: 
fome fainting and growing weary in mind, 
thro' defpair of his coming : and others wax- 
ing more and more bold and prefumptuous, 
thro' dilbelief and utter denial of it : faying. 
Where is the promife of his coming : forfmce 
the fathers fell a fleep, all t hi ?igs continue as they 
were from the beginning of the world ^ ? 

Let not fuch prefume too far : for behold 
he that fhall come, will come, and will not 
tarry : one day is with him as athoufandyears, 
and a thoufand years as one day : he is not 
flack concerning his promife, as fome men 
count flacknefs, but long-fufFering, not will- 
ing that any, even the greateft finner, fhould 
perifh, but that all fliould come to repent- 
ance. However, when he hath borne long, 
if they will not repent, he will come fpeedily, 
he will come fuddenly : The day of the Lord 
will come as a thief in the night : and as the 
lightnings that lighttteth out of the one part un^ 
der heaven y JJmieth unto the other part under 
heaven : fo Jljall alfo the coming of the Son of 
man be. 

And as to the righteous, let them x\o\.fai?it^ 
nor grow weary, and ceafe to pray j fmcc 

* Comp. Maff.xxW, 32, 33. Luke xxi, 28. 


3^4 On fbe P ARABLE 

they have firft, Cbrift's fare word and pfo- 
mife, that he will avenge his own eleft, who 
cry day and night unto him : tho' he do in- 
deed bear long with them, that the trial of 
their faith may be found precious, and unto 
their praife and honour and glory, at the ap- 
pearing of the Lord Jejus Chriji^ : For the 
opprefjlon of the poor ^ for the fight ng of the needy 
now will I arifey faith God, / will fet him in 
fajety from him that would enfnare him. Nay, 
St. Foul affirms, that it is a righteous thing 
with God to recom^enfe tribulation to them that 
trouble his eled: : and to you who are t^^oiibled^ 
it is alfo a righteous thing with him to recom- 
penfe reft with iis^ when the Lord Jefiis fjall be 
revealed jrom heaven^ with his mighty angels^ in 
flaming fir e^ taking vengeance on the?n that know 
not God y and that obey not the Gofpel ofi our Lrrd 
Jefus Chrifi : who fl^all be punificd with ever- 
lading deJiruSion from the prefence of the Lord, 
and the glorv of his power ^ when he fhall come to 
be glorified in his faint s^ and to be admired in 
all them that believe in that day -f-. 

But befides thefe and other flrong aflevera- 
tions, they have alfo the moft forcible arguments 
and motives to convince them, that he will 
avenge their caufe, and of confequence to en- 
courage them in the performance of their 

* I Peter i. 7. \ ^ ThelT. i. 7, 8, 9, 10, 


Of the mporftinate Widonio, 365 

duty, in a conftant and importunate cry to 
him. — For confider firft the perfon of the 
judge, and then fecondly, of the widow: arid 
you will difcern what lively encouragements 
even this fingle parable fupplies us v/ith, to 
pray always, and how inexcuiable we muft 
be, if we faint and defpair of the goodnefs of 
juftice of our Father arid our God. 

I. For this judge was, in the firft place, an 
unjujl judge, and yet he was prevailed upon 
by the importunity of the widow. The Judge 
with whom we have to do, is not only 2.jujl 
judge, but a righteous father. How much 
rather then fhall the importunity of his own 
ele5l, his children by faith, prevail with him ? 
2. As this was an unjujl:, fo was he alfo art 
hard-hearted judge, he had no mercy, no 
bowels of compaffion for a poor widow in 
diftrefs : and he relieved her only to get rid 
of her clamour : he was fuch a one as Cambyfes^ 
the Great put to death in his days, and flay- 
ing him, caufed the judgment-feat to be co- 
vered with his ikin : after which, he made 
the fon judge in his father's ftead, who was 
thus continually reminded to do juftice, by the 
confideration of his father's punifhment : but 
this judge in the parable dreaded no fuch pu- 
nifliment s he ntiihtxjeared God, nor regarded 
man—OviVJuJl Judge Ao\h^^ard man : he 

* See UniverC Hiftory, vol. 5. ^#141. N. u, and ^ol- 
//wsanc. Hift. vol, 2. p 2^9. 
VoE.ill. X « 

3o6 On the PARABLE 

ife- the helper of the helplefs : he is full of 
compaflion and mercy : his eyes are upon hi& 
lervants, more efpecialiy fuch as are in afBic- 
lion, the widows and the fatherlefs : he tak- 
€th their caufe in hand y he will not with- 
hold his peace at their tears. It was a regard^ 
an eminent regard for man, that caufed this 
very Judge to fend his only-begotten Son into 
the world to offer himfelf up as a facrifice for 
the fins of the whole world : to redeem his 
people from wrath, from death and from, 
hell : and if be fent his Son to die for them, 
much more will he bear their cry and will 
help them : for if when we were enemies we 
were reconciled to God by the death of his So?2^ 
much more being reconciled wq Jhall be faved by 
his life^ efpecialiy when we cry day and night 
mnto him for that falvation !^ — Who then can 
doubt of ihtjuftice^ who can defpair of the 
goodnefs of this Judge ; and who can be afraid 
to bri^g a righteous caufe before him ? 

But as the iudge in the parable was an un- 
jufl ^nd di hard-hsarted judge, fo was he 
o^ly, an inferior magiilrate, a fubordinate of- 
ficer ', there lay an appeal from him to the 
hioher courts, and the higheft courts are al- 
v/ays fuppofed to regard juftice moft. — God 
i;8 the /•//>;y»2^ Judge : the Judrre of judges : 
and the Judge of all the earth will certainly 


Of the importunate TFidow^ 507 

do right. This is an undoubted conclufion, 
laid down by St. Paul : We are fare ^ that the 
judgment of God is according to truth. He can 
be influenced by no finifter motives, by nei- 
ther prejudice, partiality, nor bribes : the 
Judge of all the earth will moft certainly do 
right. May we not then with the utmoft joy 
and confidence commit our righteous caufe to 
this fapreme^ this jujl, and moft compajjionate 
judge ? 

Thus then we fee three advantages we have 
over the widow, in the perfon of our Judge : 
fhe had an unjuft, an unmerciful, and an in- 
ferior judge to deal with, and yet her impor- 
tunity prevailed even over fuch a one as him ! 
\Ve have a moft righteous, moft merciful, and 
an almighty Judge, the Judge of all judges, 
and (hall we doubt, that he will fail to avenge 
his own eled: }—I tell you^ that he will avenge 
them (pee dily. 

But let us, 2dly, fee the advantages we have 
over the widow in the charader of the eledl of 
God. I. She was a widow ^ left alone and 
defolate : and poor widows fcldom find many 
friends : (he was an utter ftranger to the 
judge : defpifed and unregarded by him : fhe 
had no friend to fpeak for her, or plead her 
caufe, no advocate mighty and able to inter- 
ceed, But the eledt are no ftrano^ers to God, 
X z thev 

3og 0« /& P A R A B L E 

they are his own beloved children 5 they are 
not left alone or defolate : they may fay with 
their Mafter, Tho' all the world forfake me, 
yet am I not alone : the holy Spirit dwelleth 
in me : Chrijl abideth in my heart by faith : 
the one maketh interceffion for me in heaven, 
the other in my heart by groanings that can- 
not be uttered." The ele(!l are not defpifeJ 
or difregarded by God : they are his peculiar 
people : near and dear to him : they that 
touch theWy touch the apple of his eye "^^ The 
eledt come not to the Judge without a friend 
to introduce and plead their caufe : they have 
an all-powerful advocate : a mediator mighty 
to plead, and able to fave, even the Man 
Chrifi Jefus. 

2. The widow had no promifes to urge, or 
to quicken her confidence and application, no 
fw^eet invitations to come and be received into 
favour : the eleft have many and exceeding 
great promifes to urge before God, and to 
give them confidence in their approaches to 
him: many pathetic and earneft invitations 
to come and have life : the golden fcepter is 
held out to them: they are commanded, 
defired, importuned to approach, to touch 
the fcepter, to afk and they fliall receive ex- 

* Zech.ii. 8. 


Of the imporiimate Widow. 500 

ceedingly abundant above all that they afk or 

Moreover, 3dly, the prayers of the v^idow 
were a trouble to the judge : they wearied 
him out : and he only avenged her, becaufe 
he was willing to be rid of her clamour and 
importunity. He was not like Philips the 
great king of Macedo?2, to whom a poor 
woman applying for juftice : the king put 
her off and told her, that *' he had not lei Jure 
to do her juftice." Upon which, the woman 
boldly replied, ^^ Then you are not a king : 
for *tis the bufinefs of kings to do juftice to 
their fubjeds.'' Moved by the force of which 
reply, the king generoufly commended the 
woman ; took her caufein hand, and did her 
the juftice which flie required. But this 
judge was moved by no fuch generous mo- 
tives 'y his were perfectly felfifh ; he did her 
juftice folely becaufe fhe was troublefome. — 
But our Judge, our God and Father, is a great 
and a generous King : who will affuredly do 
juftice and judgment to all his opprelTed fub- 
jedts : the fooner and the more importunately 
they cry to him in their diftrefs, the more 
welcome are they and the more fure is their 
deliverance. The prayers of his eledt are 
precious and delightful in the ears of God, 
which are ever open to them. The more 
X 3 impor- 

310 OnffjeVARABLE 

importunate, the more fervent, the more frq- 
quent our petitions are, the more pleafing they 
are to God ; *' God loves to fee his doors, faith 
St^ujih?, throng'dwith importunate fuitors:*' 
this holy violence is acceptable to him "*. 
When the ele6t cry, vi^ith earneftnefs, and 
that day and nighty with perfeverance f, fuch 


* Et haec vis Deo grata eft, fays TertuUian, 
f As thefe trumpets of prayer muft hQ loud, fays Bp. 
Brcwnrigg, (o muft they be lajiing. Thefe cities are day 
and nighty iqftant and conjiant prayers. Strength and kngth 
of devotion are the two wings of prayers. Paul Cddls it 
perfevering in prayer. We muft not have Beihulian de- 
votions, Judith vii. If God will not deliver us in five 
days, we will give over our prayers. Fajiing and prayer ^ 
that's the devotion of the day : and watchings and prayer^ 
that's the devotion of the night. There was a fociety of 
monks in Co7iJia72tinople^ called Monachi infoinnes^ fome of 
which company were praying at all fe^fons of the night. 
Well, that excefs of devotion is now laid afide. Alas f 
who breaks his fleep to pray and mourn for the aiBictions 
of the church .? The fhip is in a tempeil: and ready to 
fink, and Jonah is got into a warm cabin, and is faft afleep. 
Ch.rlji commends this v/atching unto prayer, under the pa^ 
rable of him, that at midnight went to borrow bread of his 
neighbour, and by importunity prevailed uMih him. An 
unfeafonable hour for the man to rife : but God likes fuch 
importunities: thefe no £lurni mend' Qatar es^ zs Ju/Itn C2ilh 
them, thefe nightly beggars, are welcome to God : likq 
importunate fuitors they will obferve no decorum of time 
and place, but will haunt him, whom they fiie to, where- 
ever they can find him. Non tantum offer tint Deo preces^ 
Jed ingcrunt ^ inipingunt : they enforce their prayers upon 
him, and extort a grant from \\m. Like thofe men, that 
brought the paljy-man to Chrift, if the doors be (liut, they 
will uotil^ thipheufc, anc^ break up ibc ro-f but they will 


On the importunate Widow. 311 
ftrong crying and fupplications pierce the 
clouds, artd make their way to heaven : they 
conquer God himfelf, and he delights in fuch 
•importunity *• 

Did then a poor defolate widow, a ftranger 
and defpifed, without friend, without advo- 
cate or interceffor — without any promifes to 
urge, without any hopes to encourage — nay, 
contrary to all hope, when her prayers were 
hateful, and hercry wearifome — did fhefolely 
by the flrength of her perfevering importu-^ 
nity gain juftice from an unjuft, an unmerci- 
ful judge ? — And (hall we fear that God will 
fail, in his good time, to avenge his own ele5iy 
his own peculiar people, his own beloved 
faithful children, all who believe in, rely on, 
^nd obey him, — who have the moft power- 
ful all-prevailing advocate to plead their caufe, 
and to interceed for them: — who have the 

bring him to Chrift, that he might be cured " Lmle- 

Gidd'mg in Huntingdon (hire^ has been rendered more fa- 
mous by the exemj^larv life of Mr. Farrar^ thd^n Con fianti- 
rrople by the Alonachi infoumes : this moft extraordinary 
Chriiiian was at the head of a large family, fome of whom 
were continually employed in prayers, ^V. duiing the 
wfiole night. Hs life and devotions v/cre peculiarly di- 
vine. Some brief account of him may be found in the 
Life of Mr. Herbert : tho' it were to be wiflied, a MS 
Life of him, by Bp. Turner^ put into my hands by a learned 
phyfician, w.^s made public, to recommend fo amiable and 
gre.-it example of piety. See Walton^ ^ Life of Herbert^ p. 
s67, &c. 

* See vol. 2. p. 231. 

X 4 mod 

312 0/z if^^ P A R A B L E 

moft encouraging promifes, and the ftrongeft 
afiuranpes of acceptance — and whofe prayers 
will be welcome, whofe importunity will be 
well-pleafing in the fight of theirj^V^, their 
compaJfio?jate, almighty Judge, their righteous 
and mod merciful Father ? 

Hold up, therefore, thou fufFeripg child of 
God, hold up ye that are oppreffed and af- 
fiidled : and who are well nigh wearied out with 
the burden of your for rows— your God, your 
father, your jufi:, and moft merciful Judge 
will come and will npt keep filcnce : he will 
avenge his own eleft. Let patience only have 
its perfedl work : refign to your Father's will, 
and in his good time he will vifit and relieve 
you. For when men cry unto him in their 
trouble y he faveth them out of their dlftrejs^ — 
Never, never therefore let us defpair, be faint 
or weary in our minds, and ccafe to offer up 
the incenfe of our prayers continually on the 
golden altar. For {hall an unjuit judge a- 
venge a poor friendlefs widow, — and fhall not 
GOD avenge his own eledt, which cry day 
and night unto him ? Only let us fo cry^ fo 
continue importunate and inftant in prayer : 
iiothing difcouraged, tho* he bear lo?jg with 
us, tho* he feemeth long to withdraw his 
helping hand, thus trying our faith, and put^ 
ing cur refignation to the utmoll teft. 


Of (he importunate Widow, 3 1 5 

Prayer is the golden key of heaven : but it 
will never unlock the door without faith * : 
we muft therefore endeavour all we can to 
flrengthen and confirm our faith, that fo our 
prayers may wing their way to heaven with 
greater force, and our deliverance draw nigh 
the fooner. — Truth it is, in times of afflic- 
tion and trouble, more eipecially when they 
have lain long and hard upon us, it requires 
much faith and ftrong prayer to eftablifh our 
patience and tq keep us in perfed refignation 
to the will of God. The recoU^ftion of the 
juftice and mercy of God, and the relation 
wc ftand in to him, thro' Cbrift Jefus, muft 
pf ncceffity confirm our faith and quicken our 
prayers. And when we refled how fuccefs- 
ful this poor widow was even with an unjuft 
judge, it cannot fail to animate our hopes, and 
to affure us of no lefs fuccefs, with a jail 

* Where faith faileth, prayer periflieth, faith St. Jujiin : 
for who prayeth, that doth not believe, according to the 
Apoflle, Ho%u Jhall they call on hhn^ in wh^m they have net 
helieved? Faith poureth out prayer, and praytr iicing 
poured out obtaineth firmnefs of faith. — In Verb. Dom, 
Rom. X. fo faith Thecphyla£i — itxcti^ wpocrer;;^*^ |3aOpoi/ xa» 
x§»)7rts tfi 7riTi( — Faith is the foundation and baiis' of all )-rayer. 
For unlefs a man believes, that he fhall receive to his profit, 
that for which he aflcs, his prayer is in vain. This fame 
f^ us, from the more ancient writers, an allego- 
rical^ interpretation of the parable, which as it fecms ra- 
■" iher 'too forcccl't I' have omitted." The' reader will find 
jt by refci^i^'ng to his Expofulon of the chapter, p. 474. 


3T4 0;?/^^P A R A B L E 

and a holy Judge who hath promt fed to a- 
venge his own ele5f^ who cry day and night 
unto him. 

Our gr€at ftudy then fliould be to fecure 
the divine adoption, to become his own eledl^ 
the children of God by faith, which all thofe 
■* are who " truly repent and unfeignedly be- 
lieve his holy GofpeL" And when you can 
in this important refpedt happily aflure your 
hearts before him, then fail not to cry day 
and night unto God, after the example of this 
'Widow : " to whom the church of God is 
here compared : and here fhe fulfils St. P^uFs 
defcription of a good widow, She that is a wi- 
dow indeedy and defolate^ trujetb in Gody and 
lontinueth in fuppli cations and prayers night and 
day^y Faith, conftancy, and importunity 
are the very foul of prayer. Heartlefs, feeble, 
and languid defires feldom make their way to 
heaven, 'jacoby we read, wrefiled with the 

* The ^/^^ in general fignifj all Chriftians<:/j<7y^;^ outof 
the world, thro* faith in Chrijt^ to be the church and peo- 
ple of God : when it relates particularly to the Jews, it 
lignifies thofe of them, who believed in Chrifl^ and upon 
that account areftyled the £le if im ef grace and abfolutely 
the elMion, Rom. xi. 5, 7, &c. See this fully proved by 
T)i.lVhiibyy in his note on i Pet. ii. 9, 

f This is Bp. -Brwjwr/V^'s remark, to whom I referred 
at the beginning of this dlfcourfe: and whofe fermon 011 
the prefent lubje6l well defervcsa feriousperui^l. 


Of the importunate Widow. 3 1 r 

God'fnan *, all 7iigbt, and would not let him 
go, till he gave him a bleffing : and he faid, 
/ will not let thee go, except thou blefs me. A 
ftrong figure and lively example, as the beft 
ancient and modern writers are agreed, of the 
neceflity and prevalence of earneft and im- 
portunate prayer. He prevailed and gained 
the bleffing: his name was changed from 
Jacob to Ijrael, a prince prevailing with God, 
in token of the divine adoption and favour : 
and in honour of the God, with whom he 
had thus prevailed, he called the name of the 

* It is, I think, agreed by the fathers and the moft 
learned chriftian writers, that the pcrfon with whom Jacob 
wreftled was no other than the fecond peifon in ihe divine 
Trinity. He is called, ver. 24. (Gfw.xxxii.) ?i man ^ there 
wrejllid a man with him — and he is called God, £/, the 
particular name of the fecond perfon — Jsapnn.-r haji ihou 
power with God. ver. 28. J have jcen Gcd. ver. 30. So 
that he was, from thtfe paflages, plainly Man and God. 
But a paflage in the prophet Hcfea, chap. xii. 3, &c. a- 
bundantly proves that this peribn was God, as alfo thejuft- 
nefs of the reference of his W) e/iling io prayer. By his 
flrength he (Jacob) had power with God : yea he had 
power over the angel., and prevailed : he went and made 
Jupplication unto him : fo he w reft led with tnis di'iine per- 
fo,i^ fent to him, the great mejfenger of the covenant: it 
will be of fcrvice to us in the reading of the Old Telfament 
to remember, that angel \s only a word of office, and fig^ 
nifie,-; no more than a mfjfenger., one fent., and fo may be 
and is applied to the divine Perfons, in many pallages, 
groily mifunderftood of fpiritual beings, commonly called 
angels. See by all means Jijlin Martyr*^ dialogue with 
Trypbo the Jew. Sed-. ^8. 'h feq. 


3i6 0;?/foP A R A B L E 

flsice Peni-El : Jhr I have feen GcJ, faid he;' 
Jace to JacCy and my life is preferved, — God 
himfelf commandeth the watchmen, in Ifaiah^ 
* never to hold their peace ^ day nor night : ye 
that make mention of the Lord, keep not filence ' 
and give him no reji till he e/lablijh and make Je^ 
rufalem a praife in the whole earth, — And to 
encourage us ftill more to importunity in 
prayer, our Lord gives us to know, that im- 
portunity will fometimes prevail, fo great is 
its power, even when friendfhip will not : 
though he will not rife and give him, faith 
he, becaufe he is his friend : yet becaufe of 
his importunity he will rife and giv^e him as 
many as he needeth. And I fay unto you, 
adds our Lord, afk, and ye fiiall have, feek 
and ye (hall find, knock and it fliall be opened 
unto you. For if a fon fhall afk bread of any 
of you that is a father, will he give him a 
ftone ? or if he afk a fifh, will he for a fiili 
give him a ferpent ? If ye then being evil 
know how to give good gifts unto your chil- 
dren : hov/ much more fliall the heavenly Fa-- 
ther give the holy Spirit^ that beftof all good 
gifts, to them that afk him ? 

Letthefe examples, thefc promifes, thefe af- 
furanccs perfuade us to greater importunity, con- 
fidence and earneflnefs in our application to the 

* Ifaiah \m. 6, 7, 


Of the importunate Widow. 317 

throne of grace, to our ht2cvtvAy Father : encou- 
raged by thefe evangelical motives, let us not 
fail to pray to him continually, as well in all the 
offices of public and private devotion — as by 
the holy meditations of the heart, by ftrong 
and ardent defires darted up inceflantly to the 
God who heareth prayer. Omit no proper 
times, nor places of performing this neceffary 
duty, and fee that your heart go with your 
lips : otherwife the words of the mouth be- 
lying the thoughts of the heart are a deep and 
folemn abomination before God. And as the 
day of trial will never end, till the day of 
death approaches; fo the neceffity of con- 
ftant, importunate, perfevering prayer and 
fupplication will never ceafe ; till that happy 
hour, that much to be defired moment fhall 
arrive, when all our wants fupplied, and all 
our grievances removed, we (hall have no 
further need of fupplication : the faints will 
no longer have caufe to cry. How long, O God, 
holy and true, dofi thou not judge and avenge 
our blood on them that dwell on the earth * ? — 
But the great day of the wrath of the Lamb 
being covciQyhow^vtx defpair d of by thefe, how- 
ever mock'd at, and difbelieved by thofe, and 

* Revel, vi. 10, ii. comp. chap. xi. iS. T\\z dejlruc- 
iion of the wicked and the rewarding of the righteous ar^:; 
frequently joined, 


3t8 O/^/i&^P a R a B L E 

the Lord having finiflied his glorious work in 
righteoufnefs — his fervants flball join in one 
eternal fong of thanks and praife to the God 
who hath avenged them, who hath delivered 
them from forrow, from fin, and from death, 
and hath wiped away all tears from their eyes, 
the former things being all pafled away ! 

Influenced by which, let us not fail to 
pray always, left we faint, and be weary 
in our minds : And as this parable was de- 
livered at firft with a view to a whole nation^ 
let me conclude with a general reference of 
the duty to us, not only as individuals, but as 
members of the fame church and fubjedls of 
the fame king : which the prefent feafon ren- 
ders the more applicable, fince we are now 
called to humble ourfelves before the Lord, 
and to turn unto him with weeping, fafting, 
and praying, for the bieffing of God upon our 
country's arms— The parable, as obferved in 
the beginning, was delivered by our Saviour 
with a defign to fupport the ete6t under the 
expediation of his coming to deftroy the yewiJJj 
place and nation. And in truth the Chriftians 
then h?d need of all poffible fupport, when 
evil men and feducers waxed worfe and 
v/orfe : when perfccutions and diftreffes on 
all hnp.ds prevailed and increafed, and when, 
fcecaufe of the abounding iniquity, the Faith 


Of the importunate Widow. 319 

of majiy 'waxed cold. — Evil days feem to 
threaten us : the fword of war is drawn, and 
the powers of Europe appear in dreadful com- 
bination, to ufe it with all their might, and 
to drench it deep in blood. War is the fear- 
ful fcourge of fin, the puniihment of guilty 
nations, and where iniquity daily more and 
more aboundeth, there is but little reafon to 
hope for vidory in battle, or for an utter De- 
liverance from the threatening evils of war : 
fince God is the Judge of all the earth, and 
if left out of the account his indignation will 
toofurely be kindled againft thofe who for- 
get or defpife his mighty arm : and put their 
truft in t he vain and feeble arm of flefh. 
For thus faith the Lord, curfed is the man, 
that trufleth in many and maketh fielh his 
arniy and whofe heart departeth Jrom the Lord, 
For he Jhall be like the heath in the defarty a?td 
fiall notjee when good comet h, but fiall ifihabit 
the parched places in the wilder?iefsy in a fait 
land and not inhabited.— B\M^ blefed is the 7nan 
that trujieth in the Lord^ a?id whofe hope the 
Lord is. Bleffed are the people, who have 
the Lord for their God ; bleffed is the nation, 
whofe ftrength is in the Lord of hofts : for 
it is better to trufh in the Lord, than to put 
any confidence in princes : fince without a trufb 
in him, all other helps are vain : unkfs he go 


320 On the P A R ABLE 
forth with our hofts, vain, very vain is all the 
help of man — we fhall fee nothing but difap- 
pointed councils, and only mourn over fruit- 
lefs expeditions and fhameful defeats. — That 
therefore we may each one in our ftation dif- 
charge our duty, as true fubjedls, and as living 
members of the church, let us not fail by 
true repentance and Jaith unfeigned to unite 
ourfelves to the family and favour of God^ 
that fo vve may be entitled to the privileges of 
his eleft, and pray always with holy confi- 
dence, night and day^ without ceafing^ con- 
ftantly, fervently, importunately, that it vi^ould 
pleafe our heavenly Father to blefs the en- 
deavours of our royal monarch, for his peo- 
ples good, to give wifdom to his counfellors, 
and a dependance, a well-groundeddependance 
upon the great king of Heaven, to him, to all 
— but more efpecially to thofe,whoprefide and 
rule in this day of peril ! And if we continue 
fervent, and earneft in prayer to God, and/z^^T 
him not to refl^ if we cry day and night unto 
him for this our land, our king and country, 
we may have good hope, that he, whofe mer- 
cies fail not, will hear, regard and blefs our 
petitions. At leaft we fhall have the infelt 
fatisfaCtion of having done our duty : and \i\ 
the general wreck find an unfpeakable com- 
fort, in being reckoned amongft the eled: of 


Of the importunate Widov), 321 

God, the fons of God by Faith in Chrijl 
■yejus !- 

Give us therefore, O eternal Father of 
mercies, and God of all power, King of 
kings, and Lord of lords, the only ruler 
of princes, give us true faith, and lively hopie 
to look up to and rely folely on thee ; Enable 
us to pray continualiy unto thee, and accept 
our moft fervent prayers, for the welfare of 
thefe realms, and of thy choien fervant George^ 
our king and governor ! preferve him from 
all open attacks, and fecret machinations of 
his enemies ! defeat their councils, affuage 
their malice : and blefs the councils and arms 
-of this people and nation, who turn unto 
thee, with weeping, fafting and praying! 
give wifdom to our governors, and a fenfe of 
thy power and mercy to all in authority over 
us : and if it be thy good pleafure, to fpeak 
the word, to difperfe the cloud now hanging 
over thefe realms, and to reftore unto us peace 
and a continuance of thy favour — grant us all 
the grace to improve it to our fouls eternal 
good, and to become more abundantly thank- 
ful, and more grateful than heretofore, for 
thy manifold and particular kindnefles vouch- 
fafed to us of this nation ! — May thy Faith 
and love grow and abound more and more 
amongft us : and may we at leaft, however 

Vo^. in. Y ill 

3.22 On the PARABLE, &c. 

in thy wifdom thou art pleafed to deal with us 
here, be found in that Day, when the Son of 
man Jhall come io]uAgt the earth, a fmall rem- 
nant, faithful and beloved, that fo we may 
inherit thy favour, and enter into the joy of 
our Lord. Grant this, O Father, for the 
fake of J ejus Chrijiy our only Lord and Sa- 
viQur, &c. Amen, 



Being the Subftance of two Sermons. 

On the P A R A B L E 

Oy/y^^ Pharisee ^j:;/^ Publican; 

St. Luke xviii. 9. 

j^/id hefpake this Parable unto certain which 
trufted in themfehes^ that they were righteous 
and defpifed others. 

F*5^MX)SC H E former parable was delivered 
w -p Q to teach us the neceffity of per/eve- 
)k ^ rauce in prayer : here we are taught 

3^)8(^XJHf another qualification, no lefs ne- 
ceffary, without which our prayers are an a- 
bomination, and all our fervices difguftful to 
God. 'Tis humility alone, which can make 
our perfons acceptable, and the prayer of the 
humble y faith the wife man, pierceth the clouds : 
and till it come nigh be will not be comforted : 
y 2 and 

324 On the V A R A B L E 

and will 7iot depart y till the mojl High Jhall he-' 
hold to judge right eoujly and execute judg^ 

The great and peculiar doftrine of the Gof- 
pel is humility : a virtue fo little known to the 
heathen world, the polite Greeks and Romans, 
that they had not fo much as a word for it 
in either of their copious languages, before 
Cbrift, The fcheme of redemption and the 
grand means of falvation are wonderfully fo 
difpofed as to hide all />;7W(? from man, and 
to extol the free grace, mercy and power of 
God alone ; to fhew us, that God is all in al!^ 
and we are nothing; to teach us, that every 
one who humbleth himfelf jlmll be exalted^ and 
that every one who exalt eth himfelf fjall be a- 

Pride and felf- confidence call: the fallen 
fpirits from heaven ; caft Adam and his pof- 
terity from paradife : pride and felf-confidencc 
caufed the pharifaical Jews to rejedl and to 
crucify Chrifl ^ and pride and felf- confidence, 
v/herever they reign, will caufe Chriji to be 
rejeded and crucified afreili to the end of the 
world. Our Saviour has not failed fully to 
warn all his followers againfl this oppofition 
to his crofs ; to lay the foundation of his doc- 
trine in humility, — his firft bleffing is for the 
poor in fpirit — to difplay the real malignity 


Of the Pharifee and Publican, 325 

lurking in the hearts of thofe, who pretend 
felf-righteoufnefs : to iTiew the hatefulnefs of 
fuch pretences in the light of God ; and his 
great complacency and delight in the oppoiite 
virtue, Te are they^ faid he to the Pharifees, 
which juflify yourfehes bejore men : but God 
knoweth your hearts^ how full of all unclean- 
nefs and iniquity they are : men may reve- 
rence you on account of your fair outfide : but 
that which is highly ejieemed among ft men^ who 
cannot fee the heart, is abomination in the fight 
of God, who can. — To fliew us which in the 
fulleft light, he delivered a parable, exprefly 
calculated for fuch, as St. Luke informs us, 
who trufted in themfelves, that they were righ^ 
teous : and as a neceffary confequence of felf- 
juftification, defpifed others* 

Two men went up into the temple, with 
one and the fame defign, to pray : the one a 
Pharifee, the other a Publican : very different 
in the efleem and opinion of men, the one 
being of that i^Qi which was accounted the 
mofl: holy and religious, and held in the 
higheft veneration : the other, of a fet of 
men, detefted by all the Jews, as the greateft 
of finners, and fo joined conftantly in their 
reckoning, with harlots, gentiles, and noto- 
rious offenders. The Pharifee, ftanding by 
himfclf, afar from the Publican, whom he 
Y 3 would 

326 On the ? AR AB LE 

would not approach left his holinefs fhoulcf 
be defiled, prayed thus, made this prayer, 
if it may be fo called, as we find neither con- 
fe^wn, nor petition in it, Gody I thank thee^ 
that I am not as other men : extortioners^ uft^ 
jiifty adulterers^ or even m^ sto; TaXsav^c * — as 
this fame Publican ! I fajl twice in the %vcek, 1 
give tithes of all that Ipofjefs. — So having com- 
mended himfelf to God, he wrapt himfelf up 
in his own righteoufnefs, and giving the poor 
Publican a fcornful look, walked away per- 
haps to tranfgrefs fbme of the weightier mat- 
ters of tlie law, judgment, juftice and truth, 
and to devour fome poor widows houfes. 

But the publican, who came up with him, 
not daring to approach the altar, to enter far 
into the courts of the houfe of the Lord, 
ftanding afar off, confcious of his own unwor- 
thinefs, would not lift up fo much as his eyes to 
heaven^ but fmote upon his breaft, faying, 
God be merciful to me a (inner ! 

I tell yoUy faid our Saviour, that however 
you might judge from outfide appearances, 
and whatever preference you would give to 
this feemingly- righteous Pharifee^ /, who 
know and fee the heart, declare unto you, 
that this Publican defcended from the temple 

* The origmal here expreffes a kind of pointings as it 
•were with ih^ finger : «,- iiT»5 ! 


Of the Pharifee and Puhtkank 327 
to his own houfe, juflified, accepted in the 
fight of God, and bleft with the mercy which 
he implored, and not the other ^ for this is the 
exadt import * of the phrafe, which we ren- 
der rather than the other : and which is there-? 
fore not to be fo well approved, becaufe ifi 
hath led many to fuppofe, that the Pharifee 
was jufiified as well as the Publican^ but that 
the Publican was more completely jullified, more 
acceptable in the fight of God, than the Pha- 
rifee, who it is very manifefl: to the leafl: ob- 
fervation, could not be at all acceptable in 
the fight of him, who has declared, that he 
abafeth all who exalt themfelves : and accord- 
ingly declares here, that the Publican went 

* The original, Kccrt^-n ecv't6^h^^Kol.%u}^kil^o^y vnKmci;^ is a 
peculiar idiom of the Greek language, and will not ad- 
mit a literal conftrudion into Englijh, The following 
paflage will ferve to fhew, that its true import is as above 
given. Johnxm. lo. our Saviour fays, He that is waflied, 
needeth not to wafhj fave his feet, » p^pftav e%« » ts? wcS'^ij 
w%]/aa9«i, where the phrafe is exactly the fame, and as you 
obferve, excludes all wafhing but that of the feet. Any 
Greek Concordance will fupply you with more proofs. 
The learned Grotius has fallen into the error of fuppofmg 
the PhdtKeQ jujlijied in fo?ne degree^ by underftanding the 
paflage, as we tranflate it : and our excellent Dr. IVater^ 
land treading in his fteps^ obferves in a fermon on the fub- 
je(^, *' Our Lord does not fay abfolutely, that either of the 
two was juflified .- but he fpeaks comparatively, that one 
Wasfo, rather than the other.'" — ^SeeDr. fVaterland's Ser- 
mons, vol. I. p. 3^3, The reader will obferve that there 
is nothing for rather in the original, and therefore it is 
priiUcdin italicks in our Bibles^ 

Y 4 drAi^n 

328 On the PARABLE 

down to his houfe jujiified, and not the Pharijee\ 
who being righteous in his own fight, and fo 
alking nothing of God, ofneceffity could ob- 
tain nothing, and fo not be juftified before 
him : for every one that exalteth himfe/f\ fiall^ 
what? htjujiified? no ; fo all be abafed : and 
he that humbleth himjelf foall be exalted, \Ad^ 
with GoA' ^ pardouy acceptation znA favour, 

ThASJuJltfication, this pardon of all our fins, 
this favour of God, and hope of everlafting 
life, is what we all equally ftand in need of, 
after which we cannot too carefully enquire, 
and of which we cannot too zealoufly labour 
to make ourfelves happy partakers. For if 
we fall fhort of this, by any wrong appre- 
henfions, or wrong purfuits, the gain of all 
befide will be lefs than nothing in the future 
account : for what Jhall it profit a man, fays 
infinite wifdom, if he gain the whole world and 
hje hts ownfi)ul, or what foall a man give in ex- 
change for his foicl^ ? The prefent parable 
will ferve excellently to Ihew us the true 
nature of jufl:ification, what we mufi: avoid, 
and what we muft perform in order to attain 
it : for which purpofe I will confider difliindlly 
the charader of the Pharifee and of the Pub- 
lican, fhew you the rocks upon which the 
former fplit, and the happy means that 

* Mark viii. 36, 37. 


Of the Thar I fee and Publican. 329 

brought the other fafe to the haven of di- 
vine mercy ! And God give us all the wif- 
dom to humble and defpife ourfelves in our 
own eyes v^^ith this Publican, that with him 
we may be exalted^ that together with him 
God alfo may be merciful to us miferable (in- 
ner s. 

All men want his mercy : as well the ftrift 
Fharifees^ as the i^t^U^di Publicans : all are 
finners : conceived and born in fin : and there 
is but one way of juftification for all, thro' a 
better righteoufnefsy than fallen man can 
ever offer unto God. To attain this, all alike 
muft afcend to the temple^ the houfe of God's 
worlTiip 5 — and that with the fame defign as 
this Pharijee and Publican are faid to have af- 
cended, to fray ; which word^ in this as in 
many other places of Scripture fignifieS;, to 
perform all the offices which pertain to the fer- 
vice of God — to hear his word, to implore 
his mercy, to blefs his name, to partake of 
his facraments — there he hath promifed ever 
to be prefent in the midft, and to grant the 
petitions fent up with united fervor to the 
throne of grace. Souls defirous of pardon, 
like that of the Publican's, when afcending, 
with this purpofe, to the houfe of God, will 
never fail to behave themfelves decently, re- 
verently, devoutly, as knowing the awful pre- 


330 On the PARABLE 
fence before whom they bow, as confcious of 
the folemn work wherein they are engaged, as 
earneftly defirous to obtain the favour and 
mercy, which they fo much want : and like 
him, fuch will deCccnd ju/itfied to their houfes, 
refreflied with the comforts of the Lord, 
humbled in heart before him, and ftrength- 
ened with new refolutions, to quicken their 
pace, and to walk with greater zeal and cir- 
cumfpeftion in the way of holinefs. 

Such are the firft fteps, which we muft 
take in order to arrive at perfed: juftification: 
of which that we may noi fail ^ Chrijl hath 
given us the two examples, which I propofe 
to confider, the firft teaching us what we are 
to avoid, the fecond, what we are to perform, 
that we alfo may return juftified from the 
houfe of God. 

It is almoft impoflible to underfland the 
nature of the Pharifee's offence, and the 
grounds of his felf righteoufnefs and con- 
tempt of others, without a general knowledge 
of the opinions and fatal errors of the Phari- 
fecs, and far the greater part of the Jewifh 
nation at that time j — ^opinions and errors 
which are therefore to be more abhorred, and 
a gain ft which we are therefore more carefully 
to guard, as they were the chief caufe of the 
treatment, which our Saviour and his dodrine 


Of the Pharifee and Publican. 331 
met with from them at that Day, and as 
wherever they are found, they neceffarily pro- 
duce the fame effeft. I will therefore, before 
I confider the charadler of the prefent Pharifee ^ 
give you a general account of the principal 
errors of the whole body. 

The fir/l * capital error then of the Jewifh 
fynagogue, and as it were the foundation from 
whence flowed all the reft, was, " their afcribing 
too great power and liberty to the will of man, or 
at leaft their utterly denying the neceffity of 
divine grace, to operate upon that will, and to 
enable it to do works acceptable to God." 
They were of opinion, that their own na- 
tural, unalfifted powers, the law being added 
only as a kind of remembrancer, were fuffi- 
ciently to obtain for them righteoufnefs and 
falvation. In oppofition to this capital error of 
theirs it is, that St. Paul hath fo copioufly fet 
forth the neceffity and efficacy of divine grace, 
and the inability of the human will and written 
law to work out any righteoufnefs acceptable 
unto God. — It may not be neceflary perhaps 
to obferve, that this alfo is the firft and capital 
error of the Dcijls, and profeft oppofers of the 
gofpel oiChrijl in this Day, nay, and of many 

* See Bp. BuW% Harmonla^ part the 2d. c. 15, 16, 17- 
where the reader will find thefe errors of the Pharlees 
fully laid open, and enlarged upon with great learning and 
judgment. See alfo Dr. Lv-htfooth Works. Vol. II. p. 
656,7, 8. 


332 On the PARABLE 

others, who profefs a faith in Chriji, yet deny 
the influences of the holy Spirit, — of all 
thofe, who like the Pharifee, truft in them- 
felves, and their own imperfed: performances, 
that they are righteous. — One would imagine, 
that this DoBrine^ fo deflruftiveof chriftianity, 
fhould not much be recommended to the 
chriftian world, by fuch profeft enemies and 
oppofers of the truth of God, in Chriji Jefus 
our Lord. 

The Pharlfees thus ignorant of the Grace 
of God, and the depravity of the human 
will, were 2dly ignorant of the true extent 
znA. fpirituality of the divine law: hence they 
refted in a kind of civil righteoufnefs : in an 
obedience, that was merely negative ^ externa J y 
tind partial : iH negative^ fmce they thought 
it enough if they abftained from grofs Crimes, 
and fcandalous offences : not committing any 
thing for which they might immediately be 
brought to juftice :* 2. external^ for they re- 

* Hence one of. their rabbles, *' whoever fhall abflain 
from the violation of a precept, a reward fhall be given 
him, as if he had obferved the precept." Mijhnah Lib. K'ld- 
duJJAn. Hence Clemens Alexandrinus explains the pharifaical 
aid chriftian righteoufnefs in this manner . " Except your 
righteoufnefs fhall exceed the righteoufnefs of the Scribes 
and Pharifees, who feek for juftification only by ahflain- 
ing from evil ; (o that you moreover add, beyond their 
perfection, the love of your neighbour and works of bene- 
ficence — you will never be kings with Chrift, Lib. 6, Sirom, 


Of the Pharifee and Publican, 335. 
garded only the outward work, and efteemed 
as nothing the fins of the heart, the evil 
thoughts^ murders^ adulteries^ fornications^ thefts^ 
falfe-witnefjes^ hlafphemies which our Saviour de- 
clares, in diredl oppofition to this opinion of the 
Pharifees, are the things that defile a man. And 
to this merely negative and external obedience 
even of the ^r^^^^ commands, fuch as were 
bound upon them under the penalty of death, 
they added alfo, 3dly, a partial and referved 
obedience to the reft, to the fecondary com- 
mands 5 which they efteemed all, that were 
not bound upon them, by the immediate de- 
nunciation of death : fuppofing themfelves 
not obliged to pay univerfal obedience to all 
thefe commands alike ; but on the contrary, 
at liberty to chufe out fuch, as they thought 
fit to obferve, and fo wholly negledting the 

p. 825. Potter, Edit. Even a heathen poet could fhew 
the mere vanity of fuch an outward righteoufnefs, where- 
jn- — Ihame to think — even fo many Chriftians confide. 

Nee furtum feci^ nee fugi, Ji mihi dicat 
Servus : habes pretium, loris non ureris, aio ; 
Non hominem oceidt : non pa fees in eruee corvos, 

Horatius, Epift. 16. L. 1. v. 41, 
Suppofe a flave fhould fay : I never fteal, 
I never ran away : " Nor do you feel 
The flagrant lafh :" No human blood I fhed: — 
" Nor on the crofs the rav'ning crows have fed." 
§ee St. Luke J xvii. 7, 10. Francis, 


334 ^^ /fo PARABLE 

reft. Hence one of their rabbles expreffes 
himfelfthus: '' Whoever will fincerely ob- 
ferve even anyone of the 613 commands, (for 
fo many of this fort they have been fcrupu- 
loufly nice to reckon up) behold, for the per- 
formance of this one, he fhall merit everlaft- 
ing life!'* — Againft this fatal opinion of 
theirs it is. that our Saviour oppofeth himfelf, 
when he declares, whofoever therefore fhall 
break one ofihefe LEAST commandments, and 
fhall TEACH men fo, (as the Pharifees pro- 
fefledly did) he fiall be called the leaf in the 
kingdom of heaven. For 1 jay unto you except 
your righteciijnefs fall exceed the righteoufnefs of 
the Scribes and Pharifees — this merely nega- 
tive, wholly external, and this partial righteouf- 
nefs — yeflmll in no cafe enter into the kingdom of 
heaven. And doubtlefs tothefe fame opinions it 
is, that ^l.'James refers, when he fays, whofoever 
fall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one 
poini-fy as the Jewifh mafters diredly allow 
their profelytes to offend—//-? is guilty of all. 
But chriftians are under the perfeB law of li- 
berty ', which requires not a partial, but an 

* ^isquis vel unum aliquod ex 613 prceceptis fincere 
ehfervaverit, ecce is illud prajlando, vitam tuerebltur ester - 
ifiam. In Milhnah, Lib. Maccoth. feiSl. ult. 
f' f St. James^ c. ii. y. 10. 'rrtona-^i tv En, offendei hi une. 
See Beza'% note and the context. — 


Of the Pharifee and Publican, 335 

univerfal obedience : not an external, but an 
internal from the heart, not a negative, but a 
pofitive obedience : it will not be fufficient to 
abhor and abftain from that which is evil, they 
muft love and cleave to that which is good. 
-—And you may obferve that our Saviour all 
thro' his fcrmon on the mount, oppofes thefe 
principles of the Jewifh rabbies: and eftabliflies 
for his church in all ages, zn univerfal^ inter- 
nal and pofitive obedience. 

Such was the fecond error of the Pharifees : 
an error which rooted them in their falfe 
notions of felf-righteoufnefs : and which pro- 
ceeded, as you obferve, from an ignorance of 
the true nature, extent and fpirituality of the 
divine law : which had they duly confidered, 
they could never have boafted in their own 
righteoufnefs, but muft have feen their mani- 
fold defects, and deeply deplor'd their weak- 
nefs and linfulnefs. From hence alfo it is, 
that fo many in the prefent day talk of their 
own morality and works as fufficient to jufti- 
fication : they do not confider the nature of 
the divine law, and what it requires of them 
< — even an obedience, fo univerfal^ that it de- 
nounceth a curfe on the tranfgrelTors of the 
leajl precept : even an obedience, fo fpiritual 
and internal^ that it condemns the v^vy fecret 
thoughts of the heart, the murders^ adulteries, 


336 On the V KK \B L E 

thefts, &c. of the intention : even an obe- 
dience fo pofitive^ that it requires the perfor- 
mance of every work of love to God and love 
to man, a love of God with all the heart 
and all the foul, a love of our neighbour even 
ss of ourfelves ! — And who amongft men, 
that will impartially confider himfelf in this 
glafs, — -and not like the Pharifee foolifhly and 
abfurdly compare himfelf with others -, for 
the condudt of others at the laft day will be 
no juilification of ours 5 — who, I fay, that 
furveys his natural depravity, as difcovered by 
this bright glafs of the pure and holy law of 
God, will ever dare to truji in himfelf and to 
defpife oxh^x^yWiW ever prefume on the thought 
cf felf-juftification — will ever dare to fay other 
than with the Publican, Lord, be merciful to- 
me a /inner? 

But the Pharifees, as if confcious, that they 
wanted fome pofitive righteoufnefs, fome good 
worki to eke out their poor tattered covering, 
fell, by the invention hereof, into a third 
error : for they devifed to themfelves a fic- 
titious kind of righteoufnefs : which they 
founded upon the obfervance of fome cer- 
tain idle ceremonies, received by tradition 
from the elders. They laid a mighty ftrefs 
upon thefe, even more, than upon the plain 
and pofitive precepts of the word of God : (o 


bf the P bar i fee and Publican, 337 

that, our bleffed Saviour complains, they had 
by their traditions made the word of God of none 
effeSf : teaching men to give gifts to the trea- 
fury, and fo abfolving them from the moft 
pofitive and the firft of relative duties, from 
honouring their parents 5 tithing, mint^ anifey 
and cummin, and ne glebing the weightier mat- 
ters of the law, judgement, juftice, and faith : 
thefe ought ye to have done, faith he, and not to 
leave the other undone : Te blind guides which 
flrain your liquor for a little giiat, ^ndfual- 
low down your enormous throats a mighty 
catneL Wo unto you. Scribes and PharifeeSy 
hypocrites 3 ye make clean the out fide of the cUp 
end the platter, but within ye are full of ex- 
tortion and excefs : without ye are fair and good- 
ly, like whited fepulchres, within ye are full of 
dead mens bones and all unclea7inefs, full of hy- 
pocrify and iniquity, Te devour widows houfeSy 
and for a pretence make long prayers ; there- 
fore ye PmU receive the greater damnation,'^ And 
St. Mark informs us, concerning thefe vain 
traditions, and this felf-wilFd religion of the 
Pharifees : that they, and all the Jews, except 
they wafh their hands up to the elbow -f-, (for 
that part of the ceremony was very ferupu- 

* Mat, xxili. fee the whole chapter. 

f MiXfi ra (iyitmo<;^ fo Thcophyla<^ Well explains 'Jtwy^ri m 

the original : fee the author. 

N". 8. Vol. III. Z louily 

338 On the V ^ K ABh E 

louily obferved) eat not^ holding the tradition 
of the elders, j^nd wheji they come from the 
market^ except they wafi^ they eat not -, and' 
many other things there be^ which they have re-^ 
ceived to hold^ as the wafmng of cups^ and pots^ 
and brazen veffels^ and of tables. See St. Marky 
chap. vii. 

No wonder when thus perfuaded of the 
free liberty of the human will, and when 
afcribing all their works thereto as having no- 
notion of the neceffity of divine Grace : when, 
thus fetting up a tatter'd obedience, merely 
negative, outward and partial, and to patch 
It up, thus deviling a multitude of idle ufelefs 
ceremonies, unprofitable to man, and utterly 
abominable in the fight of God : — no wonder, 
they fell into the 4th and laft error obfervable 
in them, namely, ^^ a full co7ifidence in them- 
felves, and in this poor righteoufnefs of theirs, 
and fo, a total ignorance of their want oi par- 
don in the fight of God, of their want of a 
Mediator and 2i Saviour J' They WQ.vt whole 
and fo needed no phyfician : they trujled in 
themfelves, and fo defpijed others, even Chriji^ 
and his atoning blood ! They did indeed ex- 
pect a Meffiah, a Chriji^ but not a JefuSy a 
temporal prince to be anointed over them ; 
not an everlafting Saviour^ to fave them from 
their fins : and therefore, as you all very well 


Of the Fharifee and Publican . 339 

know, Chriji and his crofs became a ftumb- 
ling-block and ftone of offence to theni : 
they had no idea, that he was the end of the 
law J or right eoufnefs to all the in that believe : 
and that, by him, all that believe are jiijlified 
from all things^ from which they could not be 
jujlified by the law of Mofes *. — BHnd hereto 
and proud of themfelves, they rejected the 
grace of God againft their own fouls, and 
crucified the Lord of hfe ! 

And this is the fad, tho' certain confe- 
quence of the before- mentioned errors, which 
we fee but too manifeftly every day, in thofe 
who are fo unhappy as to be ignorant of 
themfelves, their fallen ftate and depraved 
will : fo unhappy as to be ignorant of the 
grace of God and its divine influence over 
the fouls of men ; fo unhappy as to be igno- 
rant of the true nature, extent, and fpiritu- 
ality of the divine law ; and therefore igno- 
rant of that perfect righteoufnefs, which God 
requires, which man, by his own natural a- 
bilities can never work out, and which can 
be only had, by faith in Chriji Jefus^ who is 
the end of the law for righteoufnefs to every one 
that believe th : the law is only a fchoolmafler^ 
to teach us our own natural weaknefs and fin- 

* A6ls xiii. 39. 

Z z fulnefsj 

340 On the ? ARABLE 

fulnefs, and to bring us to Chrifl, that we 
may be juftified by him : to fhew us, from^ 
its fpirituality, holinefs, juftice, and goodnefs, 
how finful, how exceeding finful, how fold 
under Jin ^ we are : to drive us at length to 
the cry, O wretched man^ that I am^ whoJJoall 
deliver me from the body oj this death — that fo, 
we may at length thank God, thro' Jcfus Chrifi 
our Lord ^ for the defired deliverance ! 

Thus then I have fliewn you, what were 
the four capital errors of the JewilTi mafters, 
but efpecially the Pharifees, when our Sa- 
viour was on earth : a knowledge of which 
will greatly tend to open many paffages of 
facred writ to you : they were, ifl, a perfua- 
fion of the abfolute freedom of the human 
will, and a denial of the neceffity of divine 
grace. 2. Confidence in a righteoufnefs merely 
negative — external — and partial : 3. In cere- 
monies, devifed by their elders, frivolous and 
weak, ufelefs to men and odious to God : and 
4. An utter ignorance of their want of a Saviour, 
and of pardon of fins, and fo a total rejedlion 
of him and full trull in their own righteouf- 
nefs, endeavouring to efiablip which, St. Paul 
declares, they were igjiorant of and fubmitted 
not themfehes to the righteoufnefs of God^ which 

* Rom. vli. 14. f Rom. vii. 24, 25. 


Of the Pharifee and Publican. 341 
h by faith of Chriji fefus ^. And thefe errors, 
alas ! have rather increafed than diminifhed 
with that unhappy people, whofe hearts are 
yet hardened, and over whofe eyes a veil is 
drawn, fo that they cannot underftand the 
law : errors, which we cannot but obferve 
with great concern, not peculiar now to Jews 
only, but polluting too many, who live in a 
chriftian land, nay, and are born and baptized 
in the chriftian faith ! 

I fliould now proceed to apply them to 
the Pharifee, in the prefent parable, and to 
fhew the immediate oppofition they have to 
the juftification, which poor finners expedl 
from God : referring this to the next oppor- 
tunity, let us, mean time, as not willing to 
deceive ourfelves, ferioufly examine and fearch 
into our hearts, and try ourfelves by the fpi- 
ritual, holy, pure and good law of God. 
An ignorance of the true nature of this law 
iind of what it requires, is one great caufe of 
the prevalence of deifls and moralijis amongft 

us baptized' del fls — baptized-infdels I No 

man that underftood the fpirituality and ex- 
tent of the law of God, would ever prefume 
to talk of felf-juftification. This was the fa- 
tal error of the Pharifees. Error and felf- 

* Rom. X. 3, 6. 

Z 3 deceit 

342 On ^7:?^ P A R A B L E 

deceit in this particular will be of as dreadful 
confequence, now as then : and voluntary ig- 
norance is felf- deceit, which can admit of 
no excufe with us : feeing we have the word 
of God before us, wc have the law con- 
tinually repeated to us : we confefs our 
breach of it conftantly : and therefore at the 
end of each commandment pray God, to 
*' have mercy upon us, and defire him by 
his grace henceforv^ard to incline our hearts 
to keep his law"— If thefe are merely the 
words of our lips, while our affedions and 
thoughts are otherwife engaged— we iliall do 
v^dl to remember, that it is dangerous to 
trifle with the moft high God, the judge of 
quick and dead. — And as thus we have the 
commandments of God continually repeated to 
us, fo have we the perfed-ion, fpirituality and 
extent of them fet before us in the Gofpel, 
efpecially in our Saviour's fermon on the 
mount. From whence we learn, to ufe the 
words of an excellent writer*, that *' the 
empire of the law, as prohibitory of evil, ex- 
tends both to the outward and inward man : 
it takes cognizance of the adions ; it judges 
every word ; all the operations and all the 

* The Rev. Mr. Harvey^ in his Theron and J^Jpafio^ 
vol. I. p. 320, and 326. 


Of the P hart fee and TuUican, 343 

difpofitions of the foul come under its facred 
jurifdiction. — It is indeed a difcerner not only 
of the working thoughts, but alfo of the 
dawning intentions : and arrains them both 
at his awful bar. It pierces even to the di- 
vidifig af under cf the foul a?id fpirit. Not the 
inmoft recefTes of the breaft are too deep for 
its penetration : nor all the artifices of the 
deceitful heart, too fubtle for its detection. 
Other laws forbid the unclean act : this con- 
demns the wanton eye and irregular defire. 
X)ther laws punifh the injurious deed: this 
pafles fentence on the unguarded fallies of 
paffion and the mod fecret emotions of re- 
fentment. So eminently true is that remark 
of the Pfalmift, Thy com?naiidments are ex- 
ceeding broad ^. 

Now who can fay that his obedience, that 
his righteoufnefs hath been commcnfurate 
to this extenfive platform of duty, to thefe 
prohibitions of the law, concerning evil r — 
and if we have not come up to its prohibi- 
tions, what {hall we fay when we confider 
the law in its nobler capacity, as command- 
ing and enjoining what is good and excel- 
lent ? — In this refpect it *' is a tranfcript of 
the unfpotted purity and abfolute rectitude of 

* Pfal. cxix. 96. 

Z 4 the 

344 On the V A K A B L E 

the divine nature : it requires an iinreferved 
obedience to all God's commands, and a moft 
unfeigned fubmiffion to all his difpenfations : 
without regretting the former as a grievous 
yoke, or repining at the latter as rigorous 
treatment. — -It calls not only for external 
duty, but alfo for the moft upright imagina- 
tions and devout affections.— It infifts upon 
the exercife of every virtue, and that in the 
higheli degree : love without the leaft luke- 
warmnefs ; and faith without any diffidence * 
a fanctity of defire, that know^s no ftain, and 
humility of mind, that is free from all 
elatement. In a word, it requires us to be 
perfect, even as cur Father which is in heaven 
is perjeB:' 

Now let the man who can fay that his 
adions come up to this exalted ftandard, that 
his graces are thus refined : his obedience 
thus univerfal, fpiritualand exad: in heart and 
life, and fuch moreover as will ftand the fcru« 
tiny of a God of immaculate purity, majefly 
and glory : — let this man juftify himfelf be- 
fore this God : let him truft in himfelf, and 
let him confide in his own righteoufnefs : 
but let no man elfe prefume to do fo, fince 
fuch an obedience only can anfwer the de- 
mands of the law.— But if all men, even the 


Of the Pharifee and Publican, 34^ 

higheft and moft exalted faints and fervants 
of God, are weak and imperfedl in this view, 
and have acknowledged themfelves over- 
whelmed with confufion in the prefence of 
the great God of heaven : if thefe demands 
of the law can be anfwered by none of the 
fallen children of fallen Adam : and if the 
law denounceth a curfe upon all, who ftand 
upon juftification by it, and perform not all 
thefe things, faying, curfed is every one that 
cpntinueth not in all the works of the law to do 
them — if all in this view, this true ftate of the 
cafe, are infolvent before the great Lord of 
the univerfe : have no lamb in their fold 
without blemifh, nothing in their life, nothing 
In their heart, but what is defedtive and de- 
filed : if this be the condition not of open fin- 
ners, not of Publicans only, but of the moft 
irreproachable perfon upon earth : if there is 
none per fed in any charader or in any work, 
no not one : none that obey the divine law 
uniformly, invariably, completely : if this be 
the cafe, as it is moft indifputably with us 
all : and as our hearts and confciences abun- 
dantly affure us— Then, men and brethren, 
what Jlmll we do to be favedf-^v^hiihtx fhall 
we fly to efcape the wrath to come ? what 
city of refuge (ball we find to deliver us from 


346 On the PARABLE 

this avenger of blood ? Men and brethrenj 

what fhall we do ? Behold the gates of 

mercy are open, fly for thy life from burn- 
ing Sodom to the little Zoar of falvation ! Be- 
hold the Lamb of God which taketh away the fim 
of the world I Cbri/t hath delivered us from the 
ciirfe of the law^ having been made a curfe for 
us ! He, who knew no fin, beca?ne an offering 
for fin, a facrifice for us, that we might be 
made the righteoufnefs of God in him ! Neither 
is there falvation in any other ! — Let us fall 
down and humbly confefs our finfalnefs be- 
fore him, count all our righteoufnefs, with 
Paul, as dung and drofs, and with joyful 
hearts accept the offer of free juftification by 
faith in Chrifi Jefus, glad to be found in him 
not having our own righteoufnefs which is of 
the law, but the righteoufnefs, which is of 
God, by faith in Chrif Jefus, Let us ac- 
knowledge our abfolute need of his divine 
grace, of his good Spirit, to work in us both 
to will and to do, to redify our depraved will, 
and to enable us as well to defire, as to re- 
ceive this perfed: righteoufnefs. And let us 
labour to teftify by our future lives of humi- 
lity and love, how deeply fenfible we are of 
that unfpeakable grace, which is merciful 
to finners, and which exaltetb all thofe to 
the favour of God, who humble themfelves 
3 before 

Of the Pharifee and Publican. 347 

before him : while with heart and voice 
we continually declare, Not unto us^ O Lord, 
not unto us^ but unto thy name he the praife, 
for thy loving'kindnejs and jor thy truth's^ 
fake ! &c. 


On the P A R A B L E 

0/*/^^ Pharisee a7^d Fublican. 


St. Luke xviii. g. 

And he f pake thin Parable unto certain "which 
truftedin themfeheSy that they were righteous 
and defpifed others. 

F"^^^"^HIS parable was not delivered 
S -p O unto fuch as were really righteous, 
^ ^ and fo trujied in themfelves : but 

^3^^10kji to thofe who trufted in themfelves, 
as being righteous : who fuppofed themfelves 
fuch, and therefore proudly refted in this 
fancied righteoufnefs of their own, buoy'd up 
by an over-weaning opinion of which they 
defpifed others : and fo were guilty of two of- 
fences^ (felf-juftificatiGn and contempt of their 


Of the Fharifee and Fnhlican. 349 
brother — ) moft immediately oppofite to the 
great and peculiar docfcrines of the crofs, hu- 
mility and love: offence ^^ which, as lobferved 
in the former fermon, arofe principally from 
an ignorance of the true nature, extent and 
fpirituality of the divine law ; with which if 
they had been truly acquainted, they could 
never have fuppofed, Ift, their own ftrength, 
unaffifted by divine grace capable of fulfilling 
it : could never have refted, 2dly, in a merely 
negative, external and partial obedience : or 
3dly, in ufelefs ceremonies of human devifing, 
received by tradition from their elders : much 
lefs could they have 4thly fuppofed, this poor 
obedience meritorious in the fight of God, 
and fo have rejected falvation and a Saviour. 

For thefe, as I then ifhew'd you, were the 
great and fundamental errors of the pharifees, 
which led them to crucify the Lord of life: 
and againfl which that blefled .Lord in his 
gofpel, frequently and ftrongly oppofeth him- 
felf : infomuch that I know not of any men 
or things, any principles or practices upon 
which he hath denounced fo feverczew^ as up- 
on thefe felf-juftifying, proud, judging, hypo^ 
critical pharifees, and the evil leaven of their 
doctrine : for he calls xhtvnferpents^ generation 
of vipers ; and adds> how can ye efcape the 


250 On the P ARABLE 

damnation of hell ^ ^ A fufficient warning to 
all the fervants of this Lord to be more efpe- 
cially on their guard againft thefe opinions, fo 
much detefted, and fo ftrongly oppofed by 
their great prophet and teacher. — The prefent 
parable was deliver'd with a view to thefe, and 
to fuch as fliould embrace the fame dangerous 
notions in all ages of the world. It is, if 1 
may fo fay, the praBice of them, fet before 
our view: a true picture of thefe opinions 
reprefented to the life : in the Pharifee we be- 
hold them fully exemplified : while the pub- 
lican ftands forth as a lively contraft : his deep 
felf-abafement aggrandizing the hatefulnefs of 
the pharifee's felf-confidence : the pharifee's 
felf confidence beautifying the excellency of 
the publican's abafement. — But let us confider 
the character and conduct of each, that we 
may learn what to avoid in the one, and what 
to imitate in the others and fo may defcend 
juftified to our houfes, partakers of the divine 
pardon and favour, and bleft with that loving- 
kindnefs of the Lord, which is better than 
life ! 

L Both the pharifee and the publican we 
are told, went up to the temple with the fame 
defign, to pray-y which always fuppofeth want^ 

* Matt, xxiii. 33. 


Of the Pharifee and Publican, 351 
for to pray, properly, is to afk for fomething, 
to make our requejis known unto God *. But 
we hear not a word of this from the pharifee: 
he W2l^ full arid enriched with goods and had need 
of ?iothi?2g: ignorant, mean time, that he was 
miferable and poor and blind and naked, God^ I 
thank thee^ faid he, — ^for what ? — Not that I 
am by thy grace refcued from a ftate of fia 
and death ; not that by thy good Spirit, I am 
enabled to confefs my finfulnefs and acknow- 
ledge thy mercy in having (hewn me my lofl: 
and ruin'd eftate — but GW, 1 thank theejhati 
am not as other men are^" that I am not like the 
reft of mankind — (vain and proud pharifee. 
that word fhews thee too plainly a fallen Son 
of fallen Adam! ) that I am of a fuperior 
ftamp and order, and by the happinefs of my 
conftitution, and the good influence of the 
planets (not by any power of grace) a ftranger 
to thofe vile offences which fo many fall 
into — extortioners^ unjujiy adulterers. It was 
indeed a great happinefs, had it been true, to 
have been kept from fuch tranfgreflions, but, 
you are to remember, that he means only the 
bare outward aft, not at all regarding the 
vilenefs of his inward affedlions, the dead mens 
bones y and all uncleannefs^ lurking in the heart 

* Phil. iv. 6. 


352 On the ? ARABLE 

of this whited fepulchre. And therefore, yoa 
obferve, that while he thanks God for not 
being faulty in thefe refpefts, he fhews his 
partial obedience to the law, by finning in a 
ftill higher degree, thro' his felf-pride and 
contempt of his brother, adding, or even as this 
publican ! what bufiinefs had he with his bro- 
ther, when offering up his prayers unto God ; 
or what right had he to judge him, with 
whofe heart he could by no means be ac- 
quainted, whofe outward behaviour could 
juftify no fuch fufpicions *, and of whom he 
ought rather to have thought well, from fee- 
ing him approach the houfeof God, and thus 
being at leaft in the way to life. — Nay, and 
granting the publican to have been really as 
bad as the generality of his profeffion and as 
the pharifee fufped:ed him ; what alleviation 
of any faults of his, or what addition of vir- 
tues could that have been ? He fhould rather 
have prayed for him, if, as he fuppofed him, 
a miferable finner : and have therefore com- 
mended him the more ftrongly to God : he 

* Had he (ctn the Publican light and contemptuous in 
his behaviour, — he would have had good reaibn for his 
condemning him in that refpecl. But had he been a 
prieft mlnijirlng in the fervice of God, he w^ould have 
been bound in abfolute duty to have reproved him for 
his indecent and unbecoming carriage in the houfe of God, 
But there was nothing of this kind in the Publican : his 
whole behaviour was expreflive of the deepeft felf-abafe- 
ment and lowlinefs. 


0/ the P hart fee and PiiUican. ^53 
fhould have pitied him on account of the una- 
voidable evils to v^hich his prbfeffion expofed 
him, and have ufed the appearance of good in 
him, as an argument in his favour *. But here-, 
in the pharifee was but too Uke the generality 
of mankind : if there be nine grains of rrierit 
in a man and one of evil, they'll fift out and 
magnify the evil one and pafs over the nine 
good ones unobferved. Virtues are feldom ag- 
grandized: faults are daily. However if meit 
are abfurd enough to do fo with a view to theif 
own juftification, they (hould let reafon rule^ 
and remember, that vve are neither better riof 
worfe,' be other men what they will: we ar6 
not to be judged or acquitted in confideratiori 
of other mens fauls, which will no way lelTeri 

* Far true chrifiian love^ as St, Peter informs us, cover-- 
eth the multitude of fms. i Pet. iv. 8. I cannot help ad:^ 
vifing my reader here — of the miftaken fenfe of this paf- 
fage, which has been unhappily mifunderftood by man^ 
from our tranflation, as if charity or alms giving would be 
availing to the covering or hiding a multitude of our own 
perforial offences. A mod peftllent opinion and big with 
innumerable mifchiefs. The original is -n hicfj:^ xaXthJ/^T 
wAjjOos uiAoiprfm — Love will cover a multitude of fins — ' 
St. Peter took the expreflion from Proverbs x. 12. where W(^ 
read. Hatred fiirreth up Jirifes, but love cover eih all fim, 
AsSt.Paul in his excellent chapter, iCi^r. xiii. on the charac- 
ters of true lov^, informs u?, that it covereth rsyet — ver. 7. all 
thing-s — there unfortunately tranflated, beareth all thinp-s. 
It is much to be wiflied the worn Aya^rrj had always besin 
tranflated love^ and not charity^ wlHch is fo equivocal, and 
iias introduced fo many miftakes. 

Vol, IIL A a rouss 

354 0«^/6^P A R A B L E 

ours : nay God hath abfolutely commanded us 
not to follow the multitude to do evil. || The 
word of God, the divine and holy law is that 
alone, by which we muft be judged : and who- 
ever examines himfelf in this bright glafs, 
will fee his own deformities fo very ftrongly, 
that he will never find time to contemn his 
brother : he will have bufinefs enough to look 
at home. Such contempt arifeth only from a 
negledl of this, and from a comparifon of 
frail men oiie with the other. Meafure thy- 
felf, O pharifee, by the exadt ftandard of 
righteoufnefs, propofed in the law, and thou 
wilt fee how very a dwarf thou art, how fhort 
thou comeft of the height demanded. — But 
the proud man looks at his neighbours defects 
thro' the magnifiing end of the perfpedive : 
and artfully reverfes the glafs, when he looks 
at his own. 

The pharifee having thus made his proud 
boafting before God of the excellency of his 
nature, and his freedom from grofs fins, his 
negative, oi/Jward d.nd partial obedience; now 
raifeth the trumpet to a ftill higher pitch, that 
he may found forth the praifes of his good 
works, his conformity to the tradition of the 
elders — Ifajh faith he, twice in the week : — 

X Exod. xxiii. 2» 


Of the Fharifee and Publican. 355 
and who required this, O pharifee, at thine 
hand, while thou doft not faft at all unto God: 
while yon fafi for Jirife and debate^ and to f mite 
with the fill of wickednefs^ you do not fajl at all 
unto me^ even unto me^ faith the Lord, He goes 
on, / give tithes of all that I pofjefs. Truth, 
even of mint, anife and cummin, while thou 
negledeft the weightier matters of the law, 
juftice, judgment, and faith: thefe oughteft 
thou to have done and not to leave the other 

Now (hould one have fuppofed this the 
fum of the Pharifee's prayer — of him, who 
made his boafl of the law^ that he was an in- 
flruSlor of the foolifi^ a guide of the blind^ a 
teacher of babes ^ the light of thofe in darknefs ? 
— Might not one have expeded him to have 
added fomething to this effedl — " But, Lord, 
I am confcious how very fmall a part this is 
of what thy law requires : and how unable I 
am of myfelf to perform all thy holy will : 
pardon therefore the imperfedion of thefe 
my beft fervices, accept my praifes for having 
bleft me with whatever good there is in my 
life : enable me by thy grace to ferve thee 
more fervently for the future, and forgive my 
fins, for thy mercy's fake in him, who is the 
true facrifice and thro' vvhofe blood alone we 
dare approach thy facred altar." 

A a :i But 

356 On rJ^ P A R A B L E 

But we hear not a word of this : having 
paid his formal compliment to God, with 
much greater complaifance to himfelf, he left 
x\\^ temple, in pofleflion only of that j unifica- 
tion which he fought, not at all folicitous, 
whether he were juftified before God, as 
thinking it fufficient for his purpcfe to be fo 
before men. But God knew his heart, and 
this was an odious abomination before him. — 
Thus you fee in this Pharifee thofe four great 
errors, which diffufed themfelves thro' the 
whole body, and rendered them fo deteftable. 
He was perfuaded, with our modern deifts^ 
of the excellency and dignity of his nature, 
and therefore wanted no grace : fo he prays 
not for it, but rather thanks God, that he had 
no need of it, not being like the reft of man- 
kind : when alas — all are alike the fons of 
Adamy born in fin and conceived in iniquity, 
when all alike are by nature the children of 
wrathy inclined to evil and averfe to good ; 
when there is fione that, by himfelf, can do 
goody no^: and therefore all alike 
have the fame need of divine grace to incline 
their will to what is good, and to enable 
them to perform acceptable fervice unto God. 
And therefore you fee under the baneful in- 
fluence of this capital error, he falls into felf- 

* Rom, iii. 12. 


Of the Pharifee and Publican. 357 

confidence from paying an obedience to the 
law, which was merely partial, external and 
negarive: he beaded, that he was no aduU 
terer, unjuft, extortioner: while he was at 
the fame time manifeftly guilty of vices no 
lefs odious in.the fight of God, felf juftifica- 
tion and contempt of his neighbour, over 
whom he infults with an infolent kind of tri- 
umph : boafting of what he could by no 
means be affared, and in which he was great* 
ly deceived, that he was ?iot as this Publican ! 
— How dare he prefume to judge of an heart, 
which he could not fee? — if he could have 
feen it, he would foon have dilcovered the 
pride and bafenefs of his own — How dare he 
prefume to judge of a heart, ignorant as he 
was even of what the written law required, 
ignorant of its fpiritual extent and dominion, 
of its condemning the fins of the heart, as 
well as of the ad:, of its requiring univerfal 
obedience to all its precepts, as well thofe 
prohibiting coiU as thofe enjoining good?— 
However, to commend himfelf the more, 
he adds his good works, but not fuch as the 
law immediately required, and fuch as were 
in themfelves excellent and acceptable, 7z//?/Vf, 
judgment and Jaith, but fome merely external 
ceremonies, tithing zv\A fafting, which, tho' 
good when rightly performed, yet the moft 
A a 3 wicked 

358 0;W^^ P A R A B L E 

wicked may perform for an outward fhew, 
and which are no tefts of the fincerity and re- 
novation of the heart by grace. " For works 
of this kind are not (o much parts of true 
godlinefs as helps and furtherances towards it. 
We faft and pray, and read and hear, to the 
intent we may be fitted for pradice : but if 
our paflions be not fubdued, failing is forma- 
lity; if our lives be not amended, hearing is 
vain : if our good deeds be not anfwerable to 
our devotions, prayer is but lip-labour. — And 
we cannot but know what a cloak to injuftice 
a preclfe converfation hath oft«^n been made 
by diflembling wretches, whofe godliiiers is 
gain : faints on God's days, but devils all the 
reft of the week : whofe zeal confifts not fo 
much in ame?iding themfelves, as in cenfurlng 
^Xi^ jlandering^ condemning and defpifing every 
body elfe ■*'*. Such a one was this Pharifee : 
and no wonder when thus ic^norant of him- 
felf, and of the divine law, thus proud of a 
merely outward obedience, he was ignorant 
of his want of a Redeemer, of his want of 
pardon for his fins, and fo fell into thofe ca- 
pital errors, felf confidence and contempt of 
others^ the immediate oppofites to the love of 
God and of man. — No wonder therefore he 

* See Dr. Sicnhope^s Epiftles and Gofpels, vol. 3d. 
, P- 277- 


Of the F hart fee and Publican. 359 

was not juftiiied : for whofoever exalteth him^ 
felf\ Jloall be abaf'd, faith that God, 'who be* 
holdeth the proud afar off] but bath refpedi mito 
the lowly, 

2. And this we lliall fee, when in the 2d 
place we confider the Fablican^ and his hum- 
ble carriage, as a fine contraft to the haughty 
pride of the felf- righteous Pharifee> 

All his words and adlions (peak the moft 
profound felf-abafement, the deepeft humi- 
lity : having been convinced of fin by ^he 
Spirit and law of God, he comes to the tem- 
ple^ as an humble fuppliant : for where elfe 
fliould he fly ? But when entering into the 
courts of the Lord*s houfe, he /lands afar of : 
the fenfe of his unworthinefs forbids him 
from approaching far into the houfe of God : 
he, dare not draw near the bleflfed altar, where 
thofe lacrifices are flain, in which he fees at 
once his hope and his conjufion ; happy would 
he be to be a door-keeper only in the houfe 
of his God. Confcious how grievoufly he 
hath offended the awful Majefty of heaven, 
how he hath broke his laws» tranfgreiTcd his 
precepts, and done defpite to his grace and 
glory, under the mofl feeling (hame and con- 
fufion of face, he would ri'A hft up fo much a 
his eyes to heaven -, hut fmote upon his breafl^ in 
token of his wounded heart and broken fpirit, 
A a 4 in 

360 G;? /;&^ P A R A B L E 

in token of his deep grief and real contrItioi> 
for having offended fo juft, fo good, fo holy 
^ God : while his tongue, in concert with his 
feet, his .eyes, his hand, his heart,— -each of 
which ypu fee was employed to exprefs his 
/hame and forrow, — while his tongue fpeaks 
jhe of them all, God^ be merciful to 
MEy a firmer ! As much as to fay, " Oh 
my God, I confefs, that I am a great and 
grievous finner in thy fight : and therefore 
juftly liable to thy wrath and condemnation, 
1 pannot with Adam or with Eve transfer my 
guilt to another. I cannot fay, this or that 
^^eguiled me. I have nothing to offer in plea, 
nothing to urge in excufe for myfelf : I have 
fipned, O Lord, I have finned, and done a- 
mifs : and novv I implore thy faving mercy tg 
pity and to pardon me: I can pretend 'no 
ji^jerits. I can plead no defervings : I cry only 
for mercy : mercy, good Lord, mercy on 
}T|e, a miferable finner * : according to thy 

* There are four lines at the end of our old tranflation 
pf tl]e Pfalms, in the hymn called the Lamentation of a Sin- 
n^r-i which abound with as much natural pathos, and af- 
fecting energy, as can be found in the moft elaborate 

Mercy, good Lord, mercy 1 afk 

This Isi the total fum : 
For mercy, Lord, is all my fuit, 

1,'Ord, let thy mercy come. 


Of the Pharifee and Publican, 3 6 1 
mercy remember thou me, O Lord : for thy 
name*s fake, O Lord, have mercy on my fin 

for it is great/' Such was the prayer of 

the Publican, which poflibly he might have 
taken from the verfe of the Pfalms juft pro- 
duced : For thy ?iames Jake^ oh Lordy have 
mercy on 7ny fin. The word rendered, be mer^ 
ciful^ iXci(T^viTi, fignifies, be propitious to, and is 
ufed in reference to the propitiatory or mercy- 
feat^ which was the known and acknow- 
ledged type of him, who is th^ propitiation 
for our fins * ; and whom, St. Paul fays, God 
hath fet forth to be a propitiation thro faith in 
his blood for the remiffion of fins -f- : in each of 
which paflages the word propitiation iXatrixog, 
refers to the propitiatory or mercy-feat in the 
holy of holies, on which the high-prieft 
fprinkled the blood of the facrifice. 

Thus you fee the main branches of the 
Publican's prayer^ are a confeffion of his own 
fmfulnefs, and an earneft cry to God for 
mercy, for his fake who was fliadowed forth 
by all the facrifices, llain and burnt, in the 
temple : and which were lively emblems to 
all who faw them, of what they muft fufFer 
eternally, whofe fins were not remitted on 
earth thro' the bloody which they typified : 
for withctit blood there neither then was, 

* I John ii. 2. t Jlom. iii. 25, 


362 0«//&^ PA R ABLE 

now ts^ or ever can be any remijjion *. — And 
our Saviour adds, that this man, the publican, 
who thus humbled himfelf to the duft before 
God, dejcendedto hishouje jujlijied^ partaker of 
the mercy for which he cried; and not the 
other ; for having juftified himfelf, he wanted 
no juflification from God. Whereupon our 
Saviour adds an univerfal maxim for all men, 
times, and places, and which he frequently 
repeated in the gofpel as of great moment : for 
every one that exalt eth himfelf like this Pharifee 
flmll be abafed^ and he that humble th bimftf like 
^his publican /hall be exalted. Such humility (hall 
always produce fuch favour from God : fuch 
pride and felf-confidence fhall always render 
men thus abominable in his eyes. 

It may be neceffary to obferve, that true 
humility as fhewn in the charader of this 
publican, is not an outward virtue, manifefted 
by geflures or cloathing, or any thing merely 
external: fuch affecflations of humility may well 
fubfift without any of the reality of it : a man 
may fit in fack-cloth and aflbes, or like the 
papifts, walk many miles barefoot, to the 
fhrine of fome notable faint, and yet carry a 
very proud heart in his bofom. True humi- 
lity is an inward grace feated in the hearty 

* Heb. tx. 22. 



0/ the Pharifee and Publican. 363 
which draws men off from all confidence in 
themfelves, their own works, merits and 
righteoufnefs, and all wherein men may glory: 
while it caufeth them to fall down, humble 
and poor in fpirit, at the foot of the divine 
majefty, to rely folely, and to put their full 
truft in the alone mercy and goodnefs of God 
thro' Chrift Jefiis. This virtue proceeds from 
the true knowledge of ourfelves, our mifery 
and fallen ftate. And a man then truly hum- 
bles himfelf, v/hen he acknowledges in fin- 
cerity, that he hath nothing, and can do no- 
thing of or by himfelf, but that whatever he 
hath, or whatever he doth, proceeds from the 
free grace of God : and that all his beft gifts 
and offerings are fadly defedlive and miferably 
imperfed: *\ " This is a virtue which carries 


* St. Chryfojiom^ in his Homily upon this parable, ob- 
ferves, that it propofeth to us two chariots and charioteers: 
in the one righteoufnefs and pride are yoked too-ether; ih 
the other, ftn and humility : and the chariot of fin out- 
driveth that of righteoufnefs, not out of the proper virtue, 
but thro' the conjunction of humility: not out of the 
frailty of juftice but thro' the tumour and heap of pride. 
For as humility by its eminency doth overcome the weight 
of fin, and leaping up attaineth unto God, fo pride by its 
weight doth eafily prefs down righteoufnefs. Therefore if 
having done many things well, thou thinkeft that thou 
canft'prefume, thou lofelt all thy prayer : but if thou car- 
rieft a thoufand burdens of guilt in thy confcience, and 
humbleft thyfelf as the bafeft^of all men, thou flialt obtain 
much confidence of God. There are three kinds of hu- 

364 On the P A R A B L E 

its own commendation : pleafing to God, be- 
neficial to our brethren, and improving to 
ourfelves. For it defrauds none, hurts none, 
but renders to all their due. To God by mag- 
nifying his grace, and unfeignedly lamenting 
our own vilenefs and impotence. To metf, 
by allowing nay by rejoicing in their juft praifes 
and deferts : it detrad:s not, judges not, flan- 
ders not, defpifes not : but contains itfelf with- 
in its own fphere : triumphs not in the faults of 
others, but (hews every man his own. It opens 
our ear to difcipline, makes us fit to be treated 
with, eafy to be perfuaded, fufceptible of ad- 
vice, patient of and willing to hear reproof : 
and by laying our mouths in the duft, by dif- 
avowing all merit, and taking fanduary only 
in merc)\ makes its foundation deep and ftrong, 
the fure foundation of a houfe not made with 
hands eternal in the heavens." — t Juft the 
reverfe hereof, is that/r/V<?, which refers all 
to itfelf, depends on and expeds favour from 
God, as the meritorious reward of its good 
adlions and fervices, and which is injurious 
to ourfelves, to men, and to God. — It is hate- 
ful in his fight and will always be abafed by 

mility, the one arifing from afflictions, the other from 
pride itfelf and the infatiability of riches — fpr what is more 
abafino; than to be fubje<5l to fuch bafe things — the thiid 
from a br- ken heart which God will not defpife." 
* See Dr. Stanhope^ as before. 

him ; 

Of the Pharifee and Publican. 365 
him : while fuch humility^ perfevering in the 
path of obedience, (hall ever find a glad ac- 
ceptance with him here, and be bleft with 
a glorious exaltation to his kingdom of blifs 

Thus we learn that pride and felf-confi- 
dence will forever cut us off from the pre* 
fence of God, and that humility and felf-abafe- 
ment only can render us fit objedts of his di- 
vine and never failing mercy. — I will conclude 
the fubje(5l with a fhort application of what 
hath been faid, ift, to thofe, who go not fo 
far as this Pharifee did, in his own account, 
in the way towards heaven. 2dly to fuch, as 
keep even pace with him, but go no further, 
and 3dly, to thofe, who are in the happy fitu- 
ation of this lowly publican. 

I ft. How far then did the Pharifee go ? He 
pay'd, you obferve, a regard to the outward 
duties of religion : 'he went up to the temple 
to pray, and to perform all the ad:s of devo- 
tion. He was not guilty of grofs and outward 
fins, fuch as extortion, adultery, injuftice — 
He endeavoured to keep his body under, and 
fo fajied twice in the week : he fhew'd a regard 
to the minifters of God, and to the poor, by 
tithing all his poffeflions for the fupport and 
benefit of each : and moft probably was no 
lefs exad: in all the other external ceremonies. 


366 On the PARABLE, 

Now can you fay, that you go fo far as this 
Pharifee? that you are not as other men, in 
reference to the commiffion of thefe grofs and 
adlual offences : that you do not follow the 
multitude to do evil, but chofe rather the 
narrow way, however Angular it may feem, 
and however you may fuffer in this world's 
goods, profit, good name and the like ? — Can 
you fay that you are free from grofs prefumptu- 
ous fins — that you are adive in duties, that you 
faft twice a week : and give alms of all that 
you pofl^efs ^, that you come up to the temple 
confi:antly to pray, to hear the divine word, 
and receive the blefied communion ? — Alas 
how many, called by the name of Chri/iy doth 
this Pharifee in thefe refpedls leave far behind ! 
Alas with how many, called by the name of 
Chrifiy will this fame Pharifee rife up in judg- 
ment : with how many who pay no fort of re- 

* How many are there who make it a merit to cheat 
their minifter of their tithes — and boaft of it as a notable 
acSt, when they have robbed him of his due ofi-'erings ? — 
Such little confider the facred right of tithes, and the blef- 
fmg arifing from a ready, chearful, and exa6^ payment of 
them — Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me^ faith 
the Lord : but ye fay, wherein have we robbed thee ? — 
In tithes and offerings. Ye are curfed ivith a curfe : for ye 
have robbed me^ even this whole nation. Neverthelefs, bring 
ye all the tithes into the Jiore-houfe that there may be meat in 
mine houfe and prove me now herewith^ faith the Lord of 
hojisy if I will not open you the -windows of heaven^ and pour 
you out a blefjing^ that there Jhall not be room enough to re- 
ceive it, Malachi iii. 8, &c. 


Of the Fharifee and Publican. 367 
gard to the houfe or worfhlp of God, who 
perhaps never come there at all : or if they do, 
yet it is with fuch bafe purpofes, and fuch un- 
worthy deiignSj and fo far are their hearts and 
thoughts from the great work wherein they 
{hould be engaged : ifuch is their behaviour, fo 
light and inattentive, fo ready are they to fall 
into Idle difcourfe, and even to cenfure their 
neighbours in the very houfe of God: that 
they can never exped to return bleft with the 
'^divine favour, but rather loaded with his in- 
dignation more than when they enter'd, as 
having juftly call'd it down on their own heads, 
by the affronting manner, in which they have 
trod his holy courts. They are fo much more 
guilty than the Pharifee in this particular, as 
he fhewed at leaft an outward reverence to the 
fervice of the great God ! — He could boaft of 
a freedom from grofs fins : — But how many, 
called by the name of Chriji^ and bound to 
his fervice by a folemn dedication in baptifm, 
cannot follow the Pharifee thus far — how 
many are there, who totally neglectful of their 
vow, their Saviour and their fouls, work all 
uncleannefs with grecdinefs, wallowing in 
filthy lufts and pafllons, giving themfelves 
up to the mofl accurfed fins, adultery, forni- 
cation, drunkennefs, to blafphemyand com- 
mon fwearing, fcarce uttering a word with- 
out an oath, to extortion, fraud, injufiice, 
covetoufnefs, to malice, envy, hatred and 


368 On the ? ARABLE 

all the filthy works of the flefh: — So far 
from having prayers to boaft of, they can only 
boaft of innumerable oaths and blafphemies : 
fo far from being able to boaft of faftihg 
twice a week, many there are who caii 
boaft of never going to bed fober twice a 
week : fo far from boafting of chaftity, many 
there are who can boaft only of their filthy 
debaucheries, and tell of their gallant unclean- 
nelTes, and diabolic midnight revelries: fo far 
from boafting of their juftice many can tell of 
their extortion and their vile arts to get gain, 
Shdl fuch be called by the venerable name of 
chriftians, — fliall fuch be entitled to the blefl!ed 
privileges of our moft holy faith ? — Sooner 
{hall earth and heaven pafs away, unlefs they 
repent, and turn and do works meet for repen- 
tance. All the Pharifees will rife up in judg- 
ment with and condemn fuch. And it will be 
more tolerable for Pharifees, however abhorred 
of God, than for fuch, who thus trample under 
foot the blood of Chriji^ and by their unholy 
lives bring an evil report on the good and 

pleafant land of Canaan. -But rrioreovef, 

there are many, who free from thefe very 
grofs offences, yet go not fo far as the Pharifees 
did: are neither half fo exact in the externals 
of religion, or the works of the gofpel-law, 
as they were: and fo of confequence are alfo 
condemned by them. How many profeffors 
have we, who cannot fay they /^^ at a!!', fo 


Of the Pharifee and Publiihri. ^6§ 
hr from fa/ling twice every week: who are 
glad to with-hold their offerings, are flack in 
works of charity, not willing to part with any 
of that beloved mammon, which they fo 
greedily feek after !-— How many who never 
come to the Lord^s fupper at all : who do but 
half keep the fabbath : thinking it enough 
Jf they come to the church in the morning, 
and fpend the reft of the day in eating and 
drinking, and fmoking, and vifiting-^who 
fcarcely ever read the divine word : who' are 
feldom in public or private prayer • and never 
have any in their families at all! — Thefe men 
do not come up to the ftandard of the Phari- 
fees of old, who at leaft were regular and 
exact in the externals df religion however they 
fail'd in the internals^ and however pride, as a 
moth, eat up and confumed all their beft fer- 
Vices : and if chrijliansy fo call'd^- do not ever! 
come up to the external part of a Pharifee's 
religion, how can they expedt any juftification 
from God, fince coming up to them only will 
avail nothing ? 

For, 2dly, fuppoiing yotir duties to eomd 
up to thofe of the Scribes and Pharifees, and 
to go no farther, yet remember that infallible 
truth hath declared, vea and bound it with ^ 
double affeveration, that this will ftand yoii 
in no ftead : for verily, verily I fay unto you^ 

Vol. hi. B b faith 

370 On the PARABLE 

faith Chriji, unkfs your righteoufnefs Jhall exceed 
the righteoufnefs of the Scribes and PharifeeSy ye 
Jhall in no wife enter into the kingdom of heaven. 
Tho* you be as regular at the hour of prayer 
as they were, tho' like them you be free from 
grofs and outward fins, no adulterer, drunkard, 
unjuft,extortioner— nay and tho' like them yoa 
perform fome good works, frequent the facra- 
mcnt, faft, and give fome alms ; — yet, the' 
you come up to the Pharifees in thefe things, 
as hard a truth as it may feem, moft certain 
k is, unlefs you exceed this righteoufnefs, you 
fhall in no cafe enter into the kingdom of hea- 
ven. Truth it is thefe are good, excellent 
and neceflary duties, they mull not be omitted, 
' jior can be fpoke of with toa much reverence^ 
except when they are fet up in oppolition to 
the Saviour, and as means of man s felf-jufti- 
fication : we may juftly fay of them, as our 
mafter faid, thefe ought ye to have done^ hut not 
to have left the other undone, Thefe ought ye 
to have done, but here is the great and eflen-^ 
tial difference, between the Pharifee's and the 
true Chriflian's doing them — but in a fpirit of 
humility and KoX^X felf-ahafement . — If while yoa 
do thefe fervices, your heart is puffed up 
within you, if you refl in them as meritorious 
a(5ts, and for your regular and conflant perfor- 
mance of them, trufl in yourfelves as righteous 


Of the Thar I fee and Publican. 3?)i . 
before God, and fo of neceffary coilfequence 
defpife others; then be fully aflured that all 
thefe works, and all this felf-righteoufnefs will 
profit you nothing in his fight, before whom 
whofoever exalteth himfelf (hall be abafed, 
and with whom humility and love alone make 
all our imperfect fervices acceptable. Pride 
and felf-confidence is the canker worm, that 
will eat out all the fubftance of your gifts and 
graces; and tho* you come up to the ftridlnefs 
of a Pharifce, in all the outward duties requir- 
ed of you ; tho' you are no grofs prefumptuous 
finner, nay and guard all you can againft in- 
ward fecret fins 5 tho' you come conftantly to 
the church, nay and to the facrament alfo, tho* 
you faft often and give alms of all that you 
poflifs ; yet if this be done with a proud, 
felf-juftifying, hypocritical fpirit, all thefe 
works will avail you nothing in the fight of 
God ; to whom pride and felf-juftification is 
the moft immediate oppofition. It is a fort of 
high-treafon againft the divine king of hea- 
ven, the glorified and exalted Son, by whom 
alone we can be juftified : and works of any 
kind, when thus fet up as a kind of Saviours 
in oppofition to the only name under heaven, 
whereby we can be faved, are the greateft 
offence to God : for they like the Pharifees 
of old crucify Chrif afrefh;j and therefore 
B b 2 you 

372 On //&(? P A R A B L E 

you find, thro' the Gofpel no perfons or te- 
nets fo ftrongly decried and condemned. For 
they thus become the greateft impediments to 
falvation, they as it were {hut the door of 
heaven, for they (hut out all hopes of repent^ 
ance and humiliation^ which alone thro' Chrifl 
can introduce us into the courts of the Lord's 
houfe : and hence our Saviour peremptorily 
declared to fuch, Verily^ 1 Jay unto you ^ that 
the harlots aiid publicans^ as in a more likely 
ftate to repent and humble themfelves, go 
into the kingdom of God before you ^ proud, felf- 
righteous pharifees. 

Above all things therefore, beware of this 
proud, felf-juftifying fpirit, which arifeth 
principally from mens comparing themfelves 
^Vith other men, like themfelves, and not 
with the perfed pattern of obedience pre^ 
fcribed by the holy law of God : we may in- 
deed ever have a good opinion of ourfelves if 
we compare ourfelves with other poor fin- 
ners, like, ourfelves ; for there is fcarce any 
man fo bad, but he may find another as bad 
or worfe than himfelf: "If we will compare 
ourfelves with other perfons, we may look 
into the exemplary lives and deaths of faints 
and martyrs, recorded in fcripture or church- 
hiftory : obierving what labours, what watch- 
ings, what fafttngs, what fatigues, what tor- 

' Of the Pharifee and Publican, 373 

ments they waded thro' for the kingdom of 
heaven : humble all the while, and lowly in 
their own eyes, looking upon themfelves as 
no better than unprofitable fervants of the 
Lord whom they ferved *." — If we will 
compare ourfelves, let it be with fuch as 
thefe ; and then we fhall be taught the more 
fully, and the more forcibly incited, to humble 
ourfelves with this Publican, and to follow 
his example, as afTured, that thus we fhall 
go right, thus we (hall be exalted in the 
fight of God • for our Lord himfelf hath 
declared, that he went down to his houfe 

3d. The firft ftep towards this real humi- 
lity\% I, a knowledge of our own great de- 
pravity, of our fallen ftate, and utter m'ifery : 
to which when we join, 2, a ferious know- 
ledge of the length and breadth and heighth 
and depth of the divine law, and of that fpi- 
ritual, univerfal and perfedt obedience, which 
it requires of us, we cannot but be fenfible 

* Sc3 D". Waterland\ Sermons, vol. I. p. 41 0. It 
fhould greatly humble us poor unprofitable fervants — to 
obfe! ve the blefTed, zealous, laborious Paul ftvle himfelf 
j>a%iroT£f OS TraPTwy To'v Ayjiyp — lefs than the ieojl of all pints, 
Eph. iii. 8. What then, O Lord, are we ! s^a%«r«TEfof 

B b 3 of 

374 0;; /;6^ P A R A B L E 

of our incapacity to do what is acceptable to 
God without his grace, and fo, 3, of the 
abfolutc neceffity of his good Spirit to enable 
lis both to will and to do : we cannot but be 
fenfible, 4, of the abfolute impoffihility of ac- 
ceptance with him, thro' any thing we can 
do or offer : lince after we have done all, 
that we are commanded to do, that God in 
his law hath ordered, Chri/l hath taught us, 
to confefs, that we are but unprofitable fer^ 
vants : — fo {hall we not dare to lift up our 
eyes before him, but fmite upon our breafls 
and fay, Lord^ be merciful to us miferMe Jin-- 
tiers ! 

Happy are thofe of you, my brethren, who 
truly humbled in foul, can pour forth this 
prayer unto God! But it is not the mere 
repeating of it, that will avail us : too many, 
alas !— are heard every day, wantonly praying 
God to have mercy upon them, as a kind of 
lafual, rambling expreffion without meaning : 
the too common ufe of which, it is to be 
feared will keep many from the mercy which 
they thus triflingly implore. — But it is the 
pouring forth this prayer unto God from a 
deeply-convinced heart, a heart fenfible of its 
fin and vilenefs, a heart fenfible of its ini^ 
quity and worthleflnefs : it is the pouring it 


Of the Bhapfee and Publican. 375 

forth with fincere deiire and importunity, 
truly fenfible of the want of that mercy whichp 
it defires, and truly anxious for that pardon, ' 
for which it is thus importunate. And 
wherever a man is thus really convinced of 
fin, he will never fail, when thus humbly 
and fincerely applying, to find that mercy 
for which he implores, and to obtain thaf 
pardon, which is only to be had from him, 
whom God hath fet forth as a propitiation for 
the remijjion of fins ihvo' J aith in his blood! — 
And wh<;n thus convinced, pardoned and ab- 
folved thro* faith unfeigned and true repent^ 
ance, fuch a man will never fail to watch a- 
gainft fin, as againft a fcorpion : to avoid all 
its attacks and fly from all its occafions : he 
will never fail to ufe all the means^ that may 
ftrengthen him in faith, and hope and love.: 
to be diligent in prayer, in hearing, in com- 
municating : he will never fail from a grateful 
fenfe of the exceeding love of God in Chrijf^ 
to love all mankind with a cordial, difin- 
terefted love, and to rejoice in every oppor- 
tunity to do them good, while he carefully and 
confcientioufly difcharges all the duties of his 
ftation : thus fulfilling the law, which love 
alone fulfils : for all the law is fulfilled in one 
word, even in this, "Thou f^alt love thy neigh- 
B b 4 bdur 

376 On the PARABLE 

hour as thyfelf. He that dwelleth in love^ dwell- 
fth in God and God in him, — When thus your 
righteoufnefs, thro' God's grace, exceeds the 
righteoufnefs of the fcribes and pharifees ; 
then will you go down to your houfesjufti- 
fied here, and then will you enter the houfe 
eternal and the joy of your Lord, completely 
juftified hereafter. 

The great point therefore you find, and 
the main foundation of the reft, is to gain 
this complete convidlion of fin : this hatred 
pf and fincere forrow for it : this knowledge 
pf our rnifery, and of our want of mercy 
thro' a bleeding Redeemer ! May the al- 
mighty Spirit of God vouchfafe it unto every 
heart, yet unacquainted therewith, that fo we 
may all come to the true mercy- feat fprinkled 
with the blood of the great facrifice, not dar- 
ing to lift up our eyes, but fmiting on our 
breafl and each one faying, Lord^ be merciful 
to me afinncr I Self-examination, joined with 
ardent prayers to God to enlighten your minds, 
will never fail to attain the defired eftedt : 
pxamine yourfelves by the ten commandments 
as they ftand in the bare letter : if you have 
tranfgrefled any of thefe, remember you are 
guilty of all : and that the dreadful curfe of 
almighty God hangs over your head^ Curfid 

Of the Pharifee and Publicatt. 3 77 
is hCy that continueth not in all the works of the 
law to do them : and delay not on any account 
to fly to the altar of mercy.— But if you find 
yourfelf acquitted here, — tho* but few, very 
few indeed live fo acquitted — then confider 
the law, in its fpiritual extent, as explained 
by our Saviour in his fermon on the mount i 
md dare not to deceive or trifle with your 
own fouls— When upon a due infpeftion yoii 
find yourfelf guilty before God, fmite upon 
your breaft and implore him to have mercy 
on you a finner— -Remember, that if now yoq. 
will not thus judge yourfelf, fuch a trial will 
one day come — and miferable they who are 
then forever condemned / " Judge therefore 
yourfelves, brethren, that ye be not judged of 
the Lord/' And to this end, carefully con- 
fider the exceeding breadth of the divine law, 
as hinted in the former fermon : confult fuch 
writers, as have carefully noted down all the 
fins, that are breaches of each of the com- 
mandments ; and as you read, pray God *^to 
have mercy upon you, for your former neg- 
led'S, and to incline your hearts to keep his 
law for the future :*' more cfpecially when you 
repeat thofe words in the folemn fervice of 
the church, be careful to imprefs your minds 
wi|:h a due fenfe of their ferioufnefs and irn- 


378 On the PARABLE " 

portancc. And the better to convince ydti of 
the dire guilt of fin and the horrid ftain of 
human nature, as well as to fill you with a 
juft abhorrence of it, look to the wild ha-^ 
vock, which it hath made from the begin- 
ning of the world until now : fee Abel by 
means thereof bleeding beneath his brother's 
hand : fee the whole world periihing in a 
fearful deluge : fee Sadom and Gomorrah fink- 
ing beneath horrid ftorms of brimftone and 
and fire : fee Pharaoh and his mighty hofts 
drowned in the Red- Sea : fee the favourite 
and chofen people of God led into a feventy 
years captivity : fee wars from age to age de* 
populating regions : earthquakes, famines, 
peftilences fcourging guilty nations and fweep^ 
ing them with the befom of deftrudion : fee 
in private life, luft, malice, pride, covetouf- 
nefs, envy, ill-will, difobedience, unbelief, 
and all the horrid brood of fin, bringing in 
innumerable evils, and deftroying all faith^ 
concord and amity ! — But above all, to fee/« i 
m its full length and utmoft deformity look to 
mount Calvary^ and there behold the Son of 
God himfelf ftretched out upon a crofs, in 
bitter anguifh, and pouring out his blood as 
a ranfom for the fin of the world ! — As a 
confequence of which fee at laft that very 


Of the Pharifee and Publican. 375 

Jerufalemy which was once the city of God, 
and the joy of the whole earth, perifliing in 
flames, ii> bloodfhed, in famine, peflilenc^, 
>and death ; not one flone left upon another— 
a dreadful and expreffive emblem of that 
world of woe, of death and horror, of thofe 
never-dying flames, and never-ending ago- 
nies, referved for thofe, who repent not pf 
their fins, and where every fin of man 
will meet its due and dreadful punifli- 
ment ! 

Alarmed by the fenfe of which, let us, 
my brethren, as we tender our falvation, fly 
from fin and fly to Chriji, fly from that which 
will forever ruin both body and foul, fly to 
him who hath fl^ed his blood to redeem 
both, who is almighty to fave, whofe com- 
paflions fail not, and who will gladly wel- 
come the humble, profl:rate Publican. — Let 
us dread nothing, fear nothing, guard a- 
gainft: nothing fo much, fo carefully as a- 
gainfl: fin, the only enemy that can harm us, 
the only ferpent that can fl:ing us : and 
let us unite the humility of the Publican to 
the zeal and ftriftnefs of the Pharifee : 
let us be as careful and diligent as the one, 
yea and far more fo, to ferve God in all 
the appointed duties, and let us be as far 


^So OnthePAR/iBLE 

froth trufting in any thing we do, as the 
other : remembering that God is all, and 
we are nothing, we are the clay and he is 
the potter, we are finful worms, duft and 
aflies, and he is almighty, and eternal : 
that all we have, we have received from 
him, life, and breath and all things : that 
all we can do muft proceed from his free 
grace and goodnefs : that all we can have 
muft flow from his free mercy, who gave 
his Son to ranfom us, when we and all 
we have were loft and forfeit to him : re- 
membering that we are but of a day here, 
pilgrims, pafTengers and ftrangers, let us 
refolve to fecure our future and better in- 
tereft : and therefore with the deepeft hu- 
mility caft ourfelves at his feet, with the 
utmoft felf-abafement, acknowledging our- 
felves unworthy the leaft of his mercies • 
yet let us with the utmoft confidence im- 
plore thofe mercies for the bleeding Jefus* 
fake, and with the warmeft love and grati- 
tude teftify throughout all our lives, the 
deep fenfe we have of his redeeming grace 
and love, and the unbounded gratitude of 
our hearts, for that he hath been pleafed 
to make us partakers of that unfpeakable 
grace and ineftimable mercy. .- In which. 


of the Pharifee and Publican. 38 1 

may we all to fhare here, as to unite with 
all the faints in that new fong to the ho- 
nour of our redeeming God, 'ihou artwoV" 
thy to take the hook, and to open the feah 
thereof for thou haft redeemed us to Gody by 
thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue ^ and 
people and nation. Amen . 




On the P A R A B L E 

Cy //5^ L O S T S H E E p. 

St. Luke XV. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. 

And he /pake this Parable unto them^ faying. 

What man of you having an hundred fheep^ if 
he lofe one of them y doth not leave the ninety and 
nine in the wildernefs^ and go after that which 
is loji, until he find it? 

And when he hath found ity he layeth it on his 
fhoulderSy rejoicing. 

And when he cometh homey he calleth together 
his friends and neighbours y faying unto them^ Re- 
joice with mCy for I have found my fheep which 
was lofl. 

I fay unto you y that likewife joy fhall be inhea- 
ven over one fmner that repenteth^ more than 


Of the Loft Sheep. 383 

Qver ninety and nine juji perfons^ who need no 

?«"^^)«("^HE great end for which Cbrift 
^ T w ^^^^ ^"^^ ^^^ world was to fave 
)^ y^ his people from their fins : to 

k.)!()J(^jtt( accomplifli this end, when in the 
world, he converfed with publicans and fin- 
ners : he ufed all means to call them to 
repentance ; he even eat and drank with 
them : and thus ihewed that he would have 
mercy rather than facrifice. The pharifees 
and elders of the Jews were kli-righteous : 
unconvinced of the evil, the burden and wages 
of fin ; they knew no want of a mediator, 
they dreamt not of repentance and faith.— 
The conduft of Jefus therefore towards pro- 
feft and notorious finners, was not only un- 
accountable, but abfolutely abominable in 
their eyes : and they ground their principal 
objedions againft him hereupon, as a tranf- 
greffor of the law, a friend of publicans and 
finners. — To obviate which, and tp remove 
their calumnies, he opened to their ferious 
refledlion a moft important truth in thefe 
words, I fay unto yoUy that joy Jloall be in hea- 
ven over one finner that repent eth^ mQre than 
over ninety and nine juft perfons that need no 


384 On /^^ P A R A B L E 

Thefe words are a key to the general fcopa 
and meaning of the three parables delivered 
in this chapter : each of which is particularly 
levelled againft the pharifaical objedions to 
our Saviour's concfudt 3 and each of which 
contains the moft comfortable truths to the 
fouls of repenting finners : for to fuch are 
they fpoken, and it fhould be remembered, 
that finners can caufe no joy in heaven', 
othervvife than by fincere repentance. Till 
they repent, they are as loji : afid fo of 
confequence caufe grief: when they repent, 
they are as found, and fo of confequenc6 
caufe joy : even as in the common affairs 
of life, our particular concern is always 
raifed by the lofs of any of our property, 
and our joy raifed, when it is recovered, 
and that in proportion to the value of the 
thing we have loft, and the doubt and dan- 
ger of its recovery. 

Our bleffed Saviour, according to his 
cuftom, the better to inculcate this prim'C 
and moft important doftrine of *' free for- 
givenefs and pardon to penitent finners,'* 
delivers three parables, taken each from 
common life: the images in which as be- 
ing natural and familiar could not but then, 
and cannot but at all times ftrike and convince 


Of the Loll Sheep. 385 

the mind. — Indeed, juftification or free par- 
don and reconciliation for repenting finners, 
as it is the diftinguifhed blefiing of the chri- 
ftian religion, fo is it the prime article of the 
chriftian faith : that wherein we are all prin- 
cipally and equally concerned : as to know how 
we may be juftified before God is or ought 
to be the main concern of every reafonable 
being : and it is an article of fuch importance 
that for the moft part the whole chriftian fyf- 
tem ftands or falls with the right or wrong 
interpretation of it. We fhall find it no 
where in fcripture treated with greater fim- 
plicity, perfpicuity and power of confolation 
than in the prefent chapter, and the more di- 
ligently every portion of it is confidered, the 
more it muft delight and comfort. Thefe 
and the like fentences in the facred Scriptures 
are very excellent and refrefhing to the foul. 
As I live^ faith the Lord^ I have no pkajure ill 
the death of a firmer^ but that he Jhould return 
from his ways and live. — Come unto 7?ie all ye 
that labour and are heavy laden ^ 1 will refrejh 
you — The life which I now live in the flejhy I live 
by the faith of the Son of God ^ who loved me, 
and gave himfclf for me. — T^his is a fait kjul fay- 
ing and worthy of all acceptation, that Chriji 
fefus came into the world to fave finners, — Thefe 
and the like are pafTages very full of comfort ; 
N^. IX, Vol. III. Cc but 

386 On the V ARABLE 

but this whole matter is painted in a far more 
beautiful manner in the prefent chapter: 
where we are fhewn, how we daily wander 
from God, fome thro' fimpUcity^ fome thro' 
ignorance, fome thro' perverjenefs, and their 
own depraved inclinations : whence we fall 
into a thoufand dangers of wolves^ o^ famine ^ 
of utter lofsdLiiA deftruction. And then we are 
fhewn in how kind and folicitous a manner 
the good Shepherd feeks us, and ufeth every 
method to bring us to repentance : with v^hat 
paternal love his bowels yearn to us, and with 
what affedion he receives us, when we re- 
turn and repent, — Thefe gracious Truths our 
bleiled Mafter beautifully reprefents to our 
view, that they may make the deeper im- 
preffion on our Hearts, under the fimilitudcs 
of 2ifiepherd, feeking his ftray'd fieep^ of a 
woman^ feeking the peimy Ihe had loft, and a 
Jather receiving the Jon, who had fpent all his 
fubftance in riotous living. So that any ob- 
jeds of this kind (bould continually remind 
us of our heavenly Father's exceeding great 
love toward us, and on every occafion offered 
to us, from the fight of fuch objeds we (hould 
contemplate our own cafe, and return praife 
to the Lord of mercy. And becaufe it is dif- 
ficult for poor unworthy finners to give full 
afient to this artick, and to embrace fuch 


Of the Left Sheep, ^^J 

fcoundlefs love, therefore our Saviour propofes 
three parables, that thus we might be per- 
fedly advifed of his gracious difpoiition to- 
wards finners, as well from his ^uoord^ as from 
the nature of things and common life : and 
might have as it were a glafs continually be- 
fore us, in which to contemplate his unfpeak- 
able mercy. 

The main fcope and defign of the three 
parables, as obferved before, is the fame ; and 
to be gathered from the 7th and 10th verfes — * 
as the occafion of their delivery is found in the 
ifland 2d verfes of the chapter : yet i^ there 
fomething peculiar to each one : for we ob* 
ferve that infirmity znAfimpUcity is the caufe 
of the error of the firft : ignorance^ qf the lofs 
of the fecond 3 and downnght perverfenejs and 
an evil inclination ^ the caufe of the mifcar- 
riage of the third. — I propofe to dw^ell at pre- 
fent upon the firft : which our Saviour im- 
mediately diredled to the fcribes and pharifec?Sj 
who murmured^ f^yi^^g^ ^his man receiveth fi?!- 
ners andeateth with them. He would convince 
them of the unreafonablenefs of their com- 
plaint againft him, from their own condud:,and 
the common ufage of mankind. IVhich man 
of you, faid he J — make the cafe your own, — 
which man of you having an hundred jheep^ if he 
hfe one^ doth not leave the niiiety ciiid nine in the 
C G a - 'wildef'* 

388 On the ? A R A B L E 

wildernefs, fafe in their fold and pajiure^ (for 
the Jews called all untill'd or pafture ground 
Epvif^o; imldernefi or defert :) and go ajter that 
ivbich is loft^ until he find it ? This one loft 
iheep engageth all his care and concern, and 
for this plain reafon, becaufe it is loji^ and the 
other ninety and nine, equally beloved, are 
fafe in their pafture : fhould any other of the 
number fall into the fame danger, and wan- 
der out of the way, it would claim the like 
carcj and obtain the fame foUicitude from the 
watchful, faithful fhepherd : whofe anxiety 
for the loft fheep neceifarily occafions joy for 
it when fotmd^. For when he hath found it^ 
he layeth it en his fijoidders rejoicing -f^ not 
harfhly and cruelly treating it, but bearing it 
gently in his arms, and reftoring the wan- 
derer to its flock and fold, y^^id when he Com- 
eth home, he calleth together his friends and 
neighbours, who had been partakers of his 
concern, and kindly fympathized with him 
for his lofs, and faith unto them. Rejoice with 
me for I have found my Jloeep that was lofL — 
It is greatly more than probable, that in this 
particular of the parable^ our Saviour alludes 

* Anxiety and deftre caufe fearch and endeavours to ob- 
tain — fearch raifes ho-pe, and hope gratified caufesycj. 

f The&phylaSi obferves here : So Chriji bore all our 
griefs, and carried our forrows. 


Of fie Loft Sheep. 389 

to fome well-known cuftom amongft the Jew- 
ilh fhepherds, who, 'tis poffible, made it a 
point of duty and good neighbourhood mu- 
tually to congratulate each other on the re- 
covery of any loft flieep ; and 'tis by fome 
conjectured that the words, '' Rejoice with 
me for I have found my fheep that was loft,*' 
might be a kind of choral fong ufed upon fome 
fuch feftivities. 

Our Saviour, however, by this parable con- 
vincing them of the reafonablenefs of joy on 
the recovery of a defired good, proceeds to 
apply it : / fay unto you, that in like 7nanner 
■'dTbiJoy Jhall be in heaven over one profeft noto- 
nous /inner * (fuch as thefe fublica?7S 2,^difin- 
nerSy for receiving whom you fo greatly mur- 
mur againft me,) over one {\xq\\ /inner, that 
repentethy more than over ninety and nine juft 
perjbns, who need no fuch repentance, as having, 
by the grace of God, been preferyed from 
fuch flagrant offences, and kept within the 
field and fold from their youth up.—" When 
one of thofe poor fmners, who hath erred and 
ftrayed from my ways, and is loft in the paths 
of fin and evil, when he is found of me, and 
I am found of him, when I, who am the 

* A|xapT«x«5 ; many contend, that this word is to be un- 
derftood very frequently in the fenfe above given, of pro- 
feft, notorious fmners. 

C c 3 good 

390 Onihe? ARABLE 

good fliepherd, recover him by my grace, 
^nd reftore him by my z\m\g\\iy power to the 
unity of the fold, the holy inhabitants of hea- 
ven will rejoice with me in his recovery, and 
men upon earth (liould imitate this gladnefs, 
and rejoice with me and with them, when / 
ka^e Jotmd my JJjeep that "was Icjl : which, folely 
becaufe it %vas lojl and is founds muft on that 
account occafion more joy, than the reft of the 
flock, equally beloved, but fafe in the pafture ; 
who not having by their wanderings caufed 
^ny (carchings of heart, cannot by their reco,-^ 
very caufe 2iny rejoicings. 

Such is the prefent parable : and thus un- 
derftood we have no need to inquire with the 
fathers and others, what is meant by the wil- 
dermfs.ih'c ninety and nine flieep left there, an4 
the likg, w^hich are plainly expounded, as a^ 
bove, and feem to have no reference Ko heaven, 
and the angeh^ left in that bleft abode, by 
Chrijly as many of the ancients fuppofe *, 
Biit^ there is one interpretation more, v/hich 

* See l"hc')ph\la5l on the place. Gregory^ in his 34th 
Homily on Luke^ obferves : The one fhecp loft is man, 
who was \o^.^ when by finning he left the paftures of hfe : 
and then the number of angels and men, made to Jive in 
(jod^ pjcfi^nce, were diniinifhed, fignified by an imperfe<£t 
number of 99 left in the wiidernefs. From this wUdernefsy 
v.'hich is heaven, God cometh down by the incarnation to 
fc-ck 'oft man ; that the n u ruber niight' again be perfected. 
And hndiii^ him, l;e layeth him on his flioulders, by bear- 

Of the Loft Sheep. 391 

IS efpoufed by fome, and claflies with that juft 
given: for as our Saviour fpeaks oi the jufi who 
need ?20 repentance^ fome have conceived, that 
hereby he means the pharifees, who v^^i^felj- 
righteous^ and in their own opinion needed no 
repentance: but the circumftances of the para^ 
ble feem to require the expofition given above*; 
nay, and in thisfenfe of theirs, the expreffion of 

— more 

ing the burden of fin, and returneth home, that is, tp 
heaven, after the work of our redemption finifhed. Then 
he calleth the angels, which are faia to hcfriend^^ becaufe 
they always do his wil' : and neighbours, becaufe they al- 
ways enjoy the prefence of his brightnefs. 

* Calvin upon the place obferves, very judicioufly, 
that the fcope of this parable is to fhew, that we ought not 
thro* negleft, to fufFer them to perifh, whom God would 
have to be faved, becaufe the pharifees were offended at 
Chr'ift for converfing with publicans and finners . It is the 
part of a good teacher no lefs to recover thofe that are 
loft, than to prefer ve thefe that art: under his hand. The 
word repentance here is to be underftooJ efpecially of that 
ripentarce v/hereby a mai;, being altogether adverfe to 
God, and dead in fm, doth rife up again, by being turned 
unto godlinefs : for as repentance is ufually taken, we all 
Deed it daily. And yet if we are already in the right way, 
we need not fuch a repentance, whereby this way is en- 
tered into, becaufe we are in it already. — But why have 
the angels more joy for one convert than ior 99, ^r.— 
Not becaufe they do not de.ight in a continual perfever-. 
ance in righteoufnefs, for notliing is more jovful unto 
ihem : but becaufe he was a corrupt member a-d ready to 
be cut off even now, wherefore to fee him fuddenly and 
beyond all hope healed, thro' God's unfpeakable mercy, 
this affc-cfeth with extraordi iary joy. 

There can be no doubt, I think, but that (7tf/i7'z's di- 

fliudion concerning retentance in this place is right : and 

' C c 4. it" 

392 O/? /i^^ P A R x\ B LE 

— more than ninety and ninejuli pcrfons — appears 
fuperfluous : fince jujt perfons of this order, 
felf -righteous, can caalc no joy in heaven at 
all y and therefore it is no wonder that re*- 
fentingfmners caufe more joy than they. But 
the particular circumftance of wonder and de- 
light in all thefe parables feems to be, '* the 
fuperior joy, which repenting linners raife in 
heaven, even over that which perfons compa- 
ratively righteous and regular afford." But of 
this I (hall have occafion to fpeak more fully 
in the parable of the prodigal, and the cafe of 
the elder brother. 

In this parable three particulars more efpe- 
cially occur to our obfervation. Ift. The care 
and folicitude of our good Shepherd in feek- 
ing his lofl fheep, reprefented by the man, 
who left hi'^ flock in the wildernefs to go after 
the fheep that was loft. lid. The fad ftate 
of finners, loft to God, reprefented by the 
loft fheep; and Illdly. The joy in heaven 
over one finner that repenteth, reprefented 

if any are ft' 11 offended at the notion oVjuJi per fans needing 
710 repentance. \t ii .y moreover be added, that our Saviour 
pofTibly ip-aksof fuch, as having truly repented and be- 
lieved, were made juft — and fo of neceflit}\ being righteous 
in that refpe£l, wanted not repentance agLiiri to make them 
fo — we have no need always to be beginners^ tho' we have 
need every d iv to li.nent and deplore ihcjloivnefs of our 
progrefs fmce we begun, 


Of the Loji Sheep, 393 

by the man's calling together his friends and 
his neighbours to rejoice with him. The 
two lall: particulars are alio reprefented to 
us in the following parable, that of the pro- 
digal, where I il:jall have occafion to confider 
at large ift. the melancholy condition of loft 
finners, and 2dly the joy occaiioned by their 
recovery J and therefore in the prefent dif- 
courfe I will confine myfelf to a confideration 
of our bleffed redeemer, under that amiable 
character of the good fhepherd. 

And where fliall w^e find that charafter fo 
beautiful exemplified as by our floepherd him- 
felf in the words of his beloved apoflle, who 
lay in his bofom and imbibed the very foul of 
love ? in the tenth chapter of whofe gofpel, 
ift. The exceeding great love of this fhep- 
herd is magnified, in that he lay'd down his 
life for the (heep. 2dly. His great power ia 
that he proteds and preferves them, and 
3dly. His great care and folicltude, in that he 
provides for them proper fupport and due nou- 
rifliment here and hereafter. We will confider 
him briefly in each of thefe capacities. But 
firft as he is reprefented to us under the cha- 
rader of 2i/hepherd in general. — 

I am the good JJjepberd^ faid Jefiis^ in oppofition 

to the blind leaders of the blind, th^fcribes^ni 

Pharifees who were no better than hirelings^ nay 

3 ^ mere 

394 On the PARABLE 

mere thieves and robbers *. 1 am the good Shep^ 
berd'y the a^xi'KonhViV the chief Jhepherd of your 
fouls, that great JJoepherd of thejheep^ who was 
from the beginning, from all eternity, and 
whom God brought again jrom the dcad^ thro' 
the blood of the everlajting covenant. For as we 
were created by virtue of the WORD, fo were 
we alfo chofen in him, called, and gather'd 
into the fold of his church. Hence David faith, 
know ye that the Lord he is God, it is he that 
hath made us, and not we ourfelves : we are his 
people and the Jldeep of his pajliire. And becaufe 
he is the true Jloepherdy he chole to derive his 
pedigree from anceftors of the like (occupation : 
from Abraham, IfaaCy and Jacob-, whofe fons 
told Pharoah, thyfervantsarefhepherdsbothwe 
and alfo our fathers. And in this refpedt the pa^ 
triarchy in general were figures of the truefloep^ 
herd. David th^ king was alfo 2i Jhepherd: God 
took him from the fl:eep folds, and from following 
the ews great with young, that be mightJeed\2iZoh 
his people and Ifrael his inheritance. And who 
not only in this refped, but in his interceffion 
for his people, is a lively and expreffive figure 
of the great (liepherd who flood in the gap, 
and fuffered himfelf to be fmote for his flock, 
^Ut thfe Jheep, what have they d-me ? let thine 

* John X. 8 


Of the Lofi Sheep, ^o^ 

handy 1 pray thee ^ be agatnfl me, and againft my 
father" ^houfe, — So that we may fay Chrijl was 
born a fiepberd^ from four of his anceftors. — • 
But he calls himfelf — the good fhepherd o Tcctfiviv 
m)^og — and there feems a fingular empha- 
fis in the repetition of the article 0-^thatfame 
good fiepherd — thus pointing as it were with 
his finger, (as one obferves) to the xxxiv chap, 
of Ezekiel^ where the prophet very ftrongly 
charaderifes the pharifees and fcribes, the evil 
iliepherds of that day ; and fets forth the care 
and G-KctUency of this fa?72e good Jhepherd, whom 
Chrifi now declares himfelf; — Son of man^ 
prophecy againft the fhepherds of lixztX, prophecy 
and fay unto them ^ thus faith the Lord God unto 
the fhepherds^ wo be to the fhepherds of Ifrael that 
do feed tbemfelves-^fljould not the fhepherds feed 
the flocks'? doubtlefs they fhould, but fee what 
evil fliepherds thefe were ! O that none fuch 
might ever be found in any other day ! ye eat 
the j at and you c loath you with the wool^ ye kill 
them that are fed ^ but ye feed not the flock. The 
difeafed have ye not ftrengthencd^ neither have ye 
healed that which wasfick^ neither have ye bound 
up that which was broken^ neither have ye brought 
again that which was driven away, neither 
have ye fought that which was loft: but with 
Jorcc and%vith cruelty have ye ruled them I Alas, 

396 On /& P A R A B L E 

alas for \htJJ:epherdSy in all times, who have 
thefe complaints laid againft them, how will 
they be able to ftand, when i\i2it good fiepherd 
{hall appear, by whom the Lord promifed to 
deliver his flock ? — Therefore will I fave my 
jlock, and they fi all no more be a prey^ and I will 
judge between cattle and cattle I And I will Jet 
up one Jhepherd over them^ and he fhall feed them 
even my fervant David * (the true beloved, the 
true fliepherd:) he fldall feed them and he fldall be 
their fJoepherd, To which remarkable pro- 
phecy our Saviour as it were points with the 
finger, declaring himfelf, by the remarkably 
^mphatical articles, o •jcoti^viv o ^aA^^, that fame 
good fiepherd th€i'Q promifed ; as well as in the 
prophecy of Ifaiah, where this fame JJ:epherd 
is declar'd to be the LORD GOD. Behold the 
LORD GOD will ccme with fir ong hand and hi & 
arm> fjall rule for him \ behold h is reward is with 
him, and his work before hinu He fl:) all feed his 
flock like a SHEPHERD : be floall gather the 
lambs with his arm and carry them in his bofom^ 
and gently lead thofe that are with young -f*. 


* The reader will obferve that this cannot be fpoken of 
David the king^ who was dead long before Ezekiel prophe- 
fied, and ther-ibre that Damd muft have been a type or 
iigure of thisy the true. David in the original fignifies 

J Ifaidh xl. 10, II. See by all means the next verfes, 


Of the Loft Sheep. 397 

Sach Is Chrift our good fhepherd : and the 
excellent right he hath to that title is abun- 
dantly confirm'd, by what he adds, in the 
fame 1 1 verfe, wherein is declared, III, his 
exceeding great love to his fheep. 

/ am the good fhepherd ; the good fiepherd gh- 
eth his life for thejheep, — But he that is an hire- 
ling and not thefiepherd whofe own thejheep are, 
not, feeth the wolf coming and leaveth the Jheep 
andfleeth: and the wolf cat cheth them and f cat- 
tereth theft^eep, The hireling feeth , becaife he is 
en hireling and careth not for the foeep. 1 am 
the good fhepherd : and know my fieep and ant 
known of mine. As the Father knoweth me even 
fo know I the Father, and 1 lay down my life j or 
the fi>eep. 

Of what he thus foretold to the Jews, we 
have only to look to the hiftory of his pajjion, 
for the full completion. Where we fee — not 
the {heep offered up as a facrifice for the fhep- 
herd : — but the great and chiej and good ihep*- 
herd offering himfelf up as a facrifice for his 
JJoeep ! The infernal wolf had not only drawn 
them affray, but was ready to devour and de- 
ftroy them eternally : when the good fhepherd 

■which cannot according to any interpretation be applied to 
any other, than this (-dme fiepherd, Chri/i our Lord : and 
no man, one would think, that reads thofe verfes could ever 
concrovert the divinity of the perfon there fpokenof. 


^98 On the P ARABLE 

came and plucked them from his jaWs^ and 
as the Jhepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lioit 
two legs and a piece of an ear t, fo Chriji deli- 
vered his fheep from the mouth of the roaring 
lion, tho' at the expence of his own life. His 
own heel was bruifed, but the head of his ene- 
my was cruflied, and all his power fubdued ^, 
For as David^ while he fed his father's flock, 
killed the lion and the bear, and delivered the 
La7nb they had feized from their mouths * : fo 
ChriJI the true David deliver'd his flock from 
the paw of the Infernal Lion, and trampled 
under foot, that bitter enemyj; he vanquiflied 
all the powers of the infernal lake \ fpoiled prin^ 
cipatities and powerSy and made a fiew of them 
cpenly\ triumphing over the?n. But he himfelf 
was firft fmktcn— I icill Jmite thefjepherd, faid 
the prophet, and thcfeep of the flock f]:)all be 
flatter d abroad: which immediately before 
his paflion our Saviour applied to himfelf: 
when he was defpifed and rejeBedof ?nen — tha 
he came to die for them,-— ^ man of forroivs 
and acquainted with grief: when we hid as it 
were cur faces from him ; when he was defpifed 
and we efleemed him not. Surely he hath borne 
our griefs and cariied our forrowi ; yet we did 

f Amos. iil. 12. 

li See Gen. iii. 15. 

♦ 1 Sam. xvii. 34: 35, 36. 


Of the Lojl Sheep. ^g^ 

ejleem him ftricken^ fmitten of God and affliBed, 
But he was wounded — good and gracious fhep- 
herd l-^for our trajifgrejfions^ he was bruifedjof 
our iniquities : the chafltfetnejit of our peace was 
upon hiniy and with his ftripes we are healed ! 
all we like fie ep have gone aftrdy^ we have turned 
every one to his own way — and the Lord hath 
laid on him — on the fliepherd for the Iheep 
the iniquity of us all I he was opprejjed and he 
was afflicted^ yet he opened not his mouth ; and, 
tho' the fovereign {hepherd, the chief Lord of 
all, he condefcended to be brought as a iamb 
to thejlaughter : and as ajheep before her Jl:earers 
is dumb^ fo he opened not his mouth ^. 

Want you any further proof of the love of 
this good fliepherd, who gave his life for the 
fheep ? hear what that fhepherd himfelf de- 
clareth: greater love than tuis hath no man^ that 
a man lay down his life for his jr lends ! This is 
the utmoft ftretch of human love ; how much 
then is the love of Chrtjl our good fhepherd 
magnified, in that he laid down his life for 
thofe who like (Ixep had gone ajiray^ and turned 
eiery one to his own way, God commendeth his 
love^ his exceeding great love to us^ faith St, 
Faul^ in that while we were — not righteous nor 
goody for ^\\oxx\ per adventure fome 072C WQU d even 

f See the whole lili. chap, oi I^aicdK 


400 On //j,f P A R A B L E 

dare to die — but in that while we were yet 
SINNERS, Chrijl died for iis ! the juji for the 
UJijufl — the good iliepherd, for the loft, per- 
verfe and wandering ilieep ! what fhepherd 
ever fo loved his (heep, as to lay down his 
life for them ! but he loved us, and hath wajhed 
us from our f.ns his oun blood! furely then he 
is juftly called the^W fliepherd ! 

IId» But he hath not only prov'd himfelf the 
good fliepherd and no hireling by laying down 
his life, as a ranfom for his flock, but he daily 
proves himfelf fuch, 2dly, by the power which 
he exerts in their protedion and prefervation. 
Poffibly this powerful protedlion, and ftrong 
fupport which Chrijl affords to all his ilieep, 
who are found of him, and enter into covenant 
with him, may be implied by that particular in 
the parable of the man's taking the loft {heep 
onhisfioulders, which are the parts emble- 
matical oi flre?igth ^iwA fupport ^.- in this fenfe 
however many of the writers on this parable 
underftand that particular. Be that as it may, 
in the following words, his prefervation of his 
fheep is plainly declared. — Myfieep, faith he, 
hear my voice and I hiow them and they follow 
me. And I give unto them eter?ial life^ and they 
fhdl never perijlj : 7zeither p^all any pluck tbe?n 

X See Ifaiah ix. 6. 


Of the Loji Sheep. 46! 

mt of my hand. My Father which gave them 
me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck 
them QUt of my Father's hand: I and my father 
are one. 

From hence vve may deri\^e the moft foiid 
comfort to our fouls : my Jheep hear my voice, 
faith Chri/I, and fol/ow me : and he affures us, 
that to thofe vvho do thus hear hi^ voice in 
his word and follow hirn, that is, obey that 
word, and live according to the precepts and 
example which he hath given,— to thafe he 
V/ill give eternal life, and they fhall nevef 
perifh, neither (liall any one shi; pluck them 
out of his hand — any enemy or evil one, re-- 
ferring principally to the grand enemy of 
fouls. This is to the foundation of all true 
comfort, that our great fliepherd will protect 
?iX\A prefer ve us from the affaults and dangers 
of the enemy, and by his almighty power 
keep us both outwardly in the body, and in- 
wardly in the foul, feeing we have no power 
of ourfelves to help ourfelves, and are as weak 
and defencelefs again ft the infernal wolf and 
all his powers, as a poor bleating flock againft 
a wolf or Hon raging with keen hunger *. If 
Vol. hi. D d w^ 

II Orlgen and Iftdon Peleuftoia^ well obferve, fays^ 
'DrJi'hitby^ that no man can fnatch them away by force ai'.d* 
tyranny; then they muft peiiih without anJ againft their 


40 2 On the P A. R A B L E 
we hear his voice and come to him, he hath= 
affured us, that he will never caft us out ;. 
he that cometh to mCy I will in no wife caft out r 
nor can any pluck us out of his hands, when 
once beneath his fovereign protecflion : becaufe 
his Father which giveth us to him, is greater 
than all, and none is able to pluck us out o£ 
his Father's hands : to firengthen us in which 
dependance upon him, he declares that he 
and his Father are one ^ : one in effence, one 
in power, one in will : fo that the llrength. 

own wills : but this may be done by deceit and allure- 
ments : thro' the negligence of men %v^?o have the freedom of 
their wills: for fuch men, who by the allurements of ths 
world the fleih and the devil thus ceafe to obey Chriji's 
laws, are notfnatch'd out of ChrijTs hands, but chufe to 
go from him — Hence then no proof (ii final per] ever ance 
can be fairly collected, and indee 1 were this doctrine true, 
all the apoftolical exhortations to take heed^ beware, watchy 
Sec. would be totally fuperfluous. But that it is not true,. 
is plain, becaufe St. Paul exprelly faith, that fome having- 
put away a good confcience, conarniiig faith have made 
jhipvorecky i T/w. i. 19. Now it would make the 
apoftle's words abfurd, to fay that th^fe perfons were 
not really and truly believers — they had faith, and a good- 
confsience^ and yet did not perfevere finally ! be not high- 
minded, but fear. 

* St. Juflin well obferves, that this is a ftrong text to 
prove the divinity of Chrift^ mark both — are and one and 
you will be fafe as well from ucylla as Charyhdis. One 
delivers you from JriuSy who denies the eternal divinity of 
Chriji : are delivers you from Sabe'lius v»'ho denies a diftinc- 
tion of perfons in the godhead. See for a proof of this 
fame point, Ifaiah ix, 6. Jcrem. xxiii. 6. Micah v. 2. 

■ of 

Of the Loji Sheep, 403 

of his Father is his flrength aho ; and there- 
fore that ftrength is ours : becaiife, if vv'e come 
to him, we /hail never periJJj, neither fhall any 
pluck us out of his almighty hand : nay, and 
moreover to convince us, that tl^e Father is 
one in will as well as in power with him — he 
declares, tlois is the will cf him that fent me^ 
that every one which fee th the fotiy and helieveth 
on him^ may have everlafling life^ and I will 
raife hifn up at the lafl day : — him that feeth 
the fon, while upon earth, tho' now the blefs- 
ednefs from his own mouth is to them that 
have not feen, and yet have believed. 

Hence then every believer may gather the 
ftrongeftconfolation, and reft happily affured, 
that this good fhepherd, who laid down his 
life for the fheep, will alfo preferve and defend 
to happy eternity * all thofe, who hear his 
voice, who attend to his divine word, who 

f The happy privileges of the (heep of C^n'/? are here 
flrongly declared — but we ihould obferve that thefe privi- 
leges are for none but thofe who firft hear his voice. 2. 
know him by faith. 3. follow him in loving obedience. 
Such from thence may reft fully aflured, that as ift, the fa- 
ther hath ^^V^'z them, fo 2dly, Chrifi hath received i\i^my 
3dly, knows them, ifi\\^^ gives them eternal life, 5thly, not 
fuffering them to periih, 6thly, nor permitting any to 
pluck them out of his hand — and he is able to keep them 
— for he and his Father are one ! who then fhall feparate 
us from liis love? Art thou, O reader, intitled to thefe 
ineftimable friytleges f 

D (} 2 rejoice 

404 0/j /<6^ P A R A B L E 

rejoice in the found, and gladly follow hiiti 
in the way which he leadeth, and readily 
purine him in thefe fteps which he hath 
marked out. — For fuch only are the fheep of 
Chrifli fuch only knew him and are known of 
him: — for he faith, / know my Jheep and am 
known of mine : and again, my fheep hear my 
voice and I know them a?id they follow me. — For 
he that is of God, heareth God's words, as 
he faith in another place, ye therefore hear 
them not, becaufe ye are not of God : this^ 
St. John in his firft epiftle gives as one fure 
mark of xh^Jheep^ the true difciples oi Chriji ^ 
we^ faith he, the apoftles^ and preachers of 
the gofpel, are of God : he that hwwcth God^ 
heareth us : he that is not of God heareth not 
us : hereby hiow we the fpirit of truth and the 
fpirit of error — hereby know we which are 
and which are not the (lieep of Cbrlji, Hi» 
(heep hear his voice, fpeaking to them by his 
prophets and apoftles : they hear it and know 
that it is the voice of the good fhepherd, wha 
hath laid down his life for the flieeo : they 
know it, from the inward teftimony of their 
heart, and its fweet agreement to their fpiri- 
tual wants and cries; it ftrikes an^ unifon as it 
were, with all the wifhes and deiires of their 
hearts : and thus knowing it, they obey it^ 
tbey follow him, and thus both know and ar^ 


Of the Loft Sheep. 405 

known of the good fliepherd : by their hear- 
ing, receiving and loving his word, and by 
their ready obedience to all its commands. 
Thofe who hear not, nor obey this word, are 
not of his (heep ; for they believe not, and 
without faith it is impoffible to pleafe him, 
and without hearing it is impoffible to have 
that faith, for faith cometh by hearings and 
bearing by the word of God, So that none are, 
none can be the fheep of Chrift^ but thofe 
who hear his word, receive it in their hearts, 
by the Spirit of Chriji as his voice, (for none 
can fay that J ejus is the Chrift, but by the holy 
Ghojt — ) fo follow him, fpeaking to them in 
this word, and as the only fliepherd of their 
fouls depend upon him for their continual 
prefervation and defence : which, as we have 
feen above, thefe who thus follow him, fliall 
ever fliare 5 for he hath promifed that none fliall 
pluck them out of his hand : nay they fliall ob- 
tain particular regard, for he hath declared, 
that the flieep who thus know him, are alfo 
k7iown of him: *not barely known^iXiQ word de- 
notes diligent care and protediion^ and love as 
well as kno^ivledge : for in the facred fcripture 
know/edge is frequently ufed for the afFeftions 
confequent upon a true knowledge. Where-^ 

X See 2 Tim. ii. 19. 

D d 3 fore 

4o6 On the PARABLE 

fore here Chrifi informs us, that his knowledge 
of his Sheep is fuch as the mutual knowledge 
between him and his Father. / am the good 
fiefherdy and know my sheep, and am known of 
mine : as the Father knowetb me and 1 '^ know the 
Father. Now the mutual knowledge between 
him and his Father is doubtlefs attended with 
the higheft love, and moft eminent regard 
and therefore he adds, to fliew, the nature of 
his knowledge of his llieep, how it is that he 
knows them — and 1 lay do%vn my life for the 
sheep, X Such isChrijTs knowledge of, fuch his 


* So this pafTage fhould be read and underftood, xa^ui yj- 
vucKei f*f TraTJjp Kctyu yivcocrxa tov Tranfcc. 

% ^efnelle obferves, on the verfe, the knowledge which 
the father has with refpecl to his fon as the head of his eleffc 
and the (hepherd of his flieep, compichends within it all 
his defigns concerning the head and the members, and all 
his eternal purpofes relating to the redemption of the 
fheep, by the death of the paftor, and to their faficflifica- 
tion and eternal falvation by him and in him. The know- 
ledge which the fon has with refpedl to the father is a know- 
ledge of adherence to his defigns, and of obedience even 
unto death for the fake of his fiieep. And as he never was 
one moment without this knowledge of love and obedience 
and facrifice : fo he never was one moment without giving 
his life for the fheep, which is here fignified to us by thefe 
words, I give2iUi\ I h70W Sec. good paftors adore the know- 
ledge of love and elecSlion in the father : and of adherence 
and obedience in the fon : they devote themfelves to him to 
be fubfervieiu to the father's defigns concerning the eh£t : 
they dedicate themfelves to their fervice, facrifice themfelves 
continually for them, and with reverence and adoration 


'Of the Loft Sheep,, 407 

love and tender concern for his fheep, thus 
are they known of and loved by him, and 
thus known and loved, while they endeavour 
to know and love him in return, to hear his 
voice and to folio whim, they may be aflured, 
that he w^ill give unto them eternal life, that 
they fliall never perifli, nor (hall any ever be 
able to pluck them out of his almighty hand. 
But in order to fecure this divine protedion 
of the good fhepherd, his fheep fliould never 
forget, that in order to be k?iown, loved and 
regarded by him, they alfo muft k?20w, love 
and regard him; know him as their fhepherd 
and redeemer, given by the Father to lay down 
his life for the flieep^ from whom they are 
bound to acknowledge the reception of what- 
ever good they have in this life, and of what- 
ever good they exped in the other, and from 
whom alone they are to look up for protedi- 
on and prefervation, for all things neceflarv 
to life and falvation. For he is that good 
(hepherd who hath redeemed his flock, not 
with corruptible things, with filver and gold, 
but with his own mofl precious blood. They 
will do well moreover to confider how it is 
that Chrift knows his flieep. He doth not 

conform themfelves to all the dlfpofitlons of Chrljl toward 
them, faying, with St. Patil^ we endure all thing for the 
^.eUS^is fake. 

D d 4 know 

4o3 On tbeP AR A B L E 

know them from any thing external, from 
colour, fize or the like- — not from any world- 
ly greatnefs, place or power — but from inUr^ 
nal things, as the fearcher of the heart and 
reins. We fliould therefore be diligent and 
careful in the due framing our hearts and lives, 
left we offend the all-feeing eyes of the good 
iliepherd : Who, that he may the more cer- 
tainly know his fheep, marks them in bap- 
tifm with the red mark of his bloody crofs, 
which while preferv'd upon the forehead, no 
power of the enemy can hurt the foul -, but as 
the angel pafTed over the houfes of the Ifrael- 
ites^ when he faw the blood of the lamb 
fpriqkled on the door pofts, fo no deftrudtioa 
of the adverfary can ever reach thefe flieep 
marked with the blood of Chrift^ nay this 
{\on {hall endure thro* death itfelf, and caufe 
the gr€:at fhepherd to raitfom and redeem fuch 
fheep even from the power of death and the 
grave ! * But wo to thofe iheep, who have 
wiped this red mark from off their foreheads — 
and thus are not known oiChrift as his fheep! 
>vo be to thofe, who are thus no longer under 
his protection and care, but fubjed to the 

f Hqfe^ xiii. 14; , 

Of the Loji Sheep, 409 

fury and rage of the infernal wolf and all his 
powers * ! 

Thus then they who know the good Shep- 
herd, may with the fulled comfort depend 
upon his power and love to proted: and defend 
them— Hear him, O Chrirtians, ye who fol- 
low him, and know his voice — hear him 
praying for you to that Father with w^hom he 
declares himfelf o?ie^ and never dare to enter- 
tain a doubt of the faithfulnefs of that Shepr 
herd, who hath laid down his life for you : 
holy Father^ keep thro* thine own name thofewhofn 
thou baji given me^ that they may be one^ as we 
are, I pray not that thou jJ^ould eft take them 
cut oj the worlds but that thou JJjouldeft keep 
them from the evil one. They are not of the 
world, even as 1 am 7iot of the world ; fanBify 
them thro thy truth ; thy word is truth : neither 
pray I for tbefe alone, but for thofe alfo, who 
fhall believe on me thro' their word : that they 
all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and J^. 
in thee : that they alfo may be one in us, and that 

* Dr. TQung fpeaks finely on this fabje(^ In his 


To man the bleeding crofs hath promised all ; 
The bleeding crofs hath fworn eternal grace. 
And is there v/ho the blefled crois wipes ofF, 

A$ a foul blot from his difhonour'd brow ? • 

If angels tremble, 'tis at fuch a fight : 

More ftruck v/it^ grief or won jer, who can tell I — 

2 the 

410 On the PARABLE 

the world may know that thou hajt fcnt me : and 
haft loved them as thouhafi loved me. Read this 
whole xviith chapter oi^\.,^ohn% Gofpel, and 
you will there fee the love of the good Shep- 
herd difplayed in the moft amiable colours : 
tho* not only this chapter, but indeed the 
conclufion of St. yc?A;7*s Gofpel from Chap.xiii. 
appears always to me a part of fcripture un- 
commonly fweet and comfortable and never 
enough to be prized and treafured up in every 
i)elieving heart. 

Having thus {t<tn the love of our good 
Shepherd in laying down his life for the 
iiieep, and his pov/er pledged for their prefer- 
vation and defence — let us in the 3d and laft 
place confider his great care in the provifion 
of proper pafturage for them here and here- 

When the good floepherd putteth forth his [}:>eep^ 
he goeth before them — anciently the fhepherds 
ufed to lead their flocks and go before them, 
and that frequently with fome ruftic inftru- 
ment of mufic, the found of which, if not 
the (hepherd's voice only, the (heep were ac- 
cuftomed to follow * — and therefore our Sa- 
viour adds, that the fliepherd going before 

* Thus Virgil \xK his 2d Ecloj[ue, ver. 23. 

Canto quae folitus, fi q^\zx\^q^ armentavocalat 
Amphion — 


On the Loft Sheep. ^j r 

his flieep, the Jheep follow him, for they know 
his voice, Verilj^ verily^ 1 fay unto you ^ I am 
the door "* of thefieep : all that ever came before 
me^ are thieves and robbers^ all the pretended 
mefliahs and antichrifts, all the falfe prophets 
and deceivers, who run without being fent, 
and a6^ed without any commiffion from God 
— but the fJjeep did not hear them, I am the 
door : by me if any man enter in, he fhall he 
faved, and he fhall go in and out and find pafture^ 
in the divine word of God, from that bread 
of life, whereof whoever eateth, fhall hun- 

* Cbriji here, ver. 7. declares himfelf the //i7^r ; and in 
the ifl- verfe tells us, that he who entereth not into the 
flieepfold by the doo7' is a thief and a robber : upon which 
^efnelle obferves — ilrange and terrible alternative ! there 
is no poffible evafion : Chr'tji himfelf affures us, that he is 
this door : whoever entereth not therefore by ^efus Chrljl 
into the paftoral office, is no other than a thief and a rob- 
ber in ^<i jheep- fold. And he enters not by Jefus Chriji 
who enters with a profpecSt of any other intereft befides 
that of C/t//? and his church. Ambition, avarice, love 
of eafe, a defire to be diftinguiflied from the crowd, to 
enjoy the conveniences of Hfe, or to promote the intereft 
of ones family, and even the fole defign of providing a- 
gainft want, thefe are all ways by which thieves and rob- 
bers enter : and whoever enters by any of thefe ways, or 
by fimony, foilicitation, craft, violence, ^c. deferves no 
better name ! Alas, for the fhepherds ! Oh that we were 
all wife to confider ! — This fame writer in his reflexions 
on the prefent xth chapter of St. y(7/;«, gives feveral marks 
of a good fhepherd : feme of which I will in brief note 
down here, and the reader may refer them to the follow- 
ing page. See his Expofition of the Gofpel of St. John^ 
in the place \ and alfo Zeger''^ note. 

3 ger 

412 On the PARABLE 

ger no more, and from that water of life, 
whereof whoever drinketh {hall thirft no 
more. HeJIjall go in and out, our Saviour 
faith, a phrafe which fome fuppofe expreffive 
of the full profperity and perfed happinefs, 
the free accefs to God, by the means of grace, 
which the redeemed fhall enjoy. So it is faid 
of David, that all Ifrael and Judah loved him, 
becaufe he went out and came in before * them : 
and fo Chrift is the Lord, who maketh his 
people bleffed, when they come in and when 
they go out. — But this feems not to reach 
the full meaning of our Saviour : St. Auftin t 


* I Sam. xvlii. i6. 

t On ver. 2 he obferves, the ift mark of a good fhep- 
herd is a lawful entrance into the miniftry by the internal 
call of Chrift — upon confiderations which refpeil only his 
glory and the good of his church. On ver. 3. the 2d 
mark is an external call, which is then lawful, when it 
is conveyed by a lawful miflion, and by the apofto'ic au- 
thority of bifhops, with a concurrence of the neceflary ta- 
lents and qualifications. The 3d mark, a due life of the 
word for the inflrrudlion of the flieep, that it may be truly 
fatd, thejheep hear his voice. 4th. A good paftor fhould 
know his fhccp perfe6tly, be thoroughly acquainted with 
their wants and neceffities both inward and outward — to 
be intent, vigilant, an,] readv to affift every one. 5h, 
He muft ufe his utmoft to bring them o(it of the family of 
Adam^ and to admit then? into that of Chriji by baptifm : 
to bring them out of themftlvcs, their fms, evil habis, 
ipclinatioiiG, diverfions o'' the v/orld, pomps of the devil: 


On the Loft Sheep 4 ^\^ 

underftands it by the entrayice^ an admiffion 
into the church by baptifm, the facrament 


and to lead them into the whokfome paftures of God"*s 
word, and into the ways of a chriftian life. On ver. 4. 
6th, A pailor muft not only (hew his {hee^ the way, butf 
muji go before them : he muft be the firft to pra^tife what 
he teaches j he muft lead fuch a life, as they may follow 
without any fear of going affray, and he muft animate his 
inftrudions by his adlions. On ver. g. 7th, A paftor 
ought to conduit fouls to Jefus Chrifl^ and by him, as the 
//5(?r offal vation. On ver. 10, 8th, The fole end which 
a paftor ought to propofe to himfelf afrer the example of 
the prince of paftors, is to ufe his utmoft endeavours to 
procure his fheep eternal life by the means of the life of 
grace. On ver. 11. 9th, The good paftor ought to fa- 
crifice himfelf for his fheep, either by labouring in his mi- 
niftry, or by expofing his life for the benefit and advan- 
tage of his flock. On ver. 12. loth, A good paftor muft 
carefully diftinguifh betwixt a mercenary fpirit and the 
paftoral love. The hireling counts the ftieep his oivn no 
longer than they are profitable to him ; x\it Jhe'pherdXock.^ 
upon them as his, as long as he himfelf can be ferviceable 
to them, ^c. On ver. 14, 15. ilth, A good paftor 
Cmght not only to kmw his fheep^ but likewife to employ 
his thoughts continually upon them and to bear them al- 
ways in his heart : for a goot^ paftor is a father, and his 
fheep are his children. On ver. 16. 12th, A good paftor 
never thinks he has gained fouls enow to God; he is con- 
tinually defirous to bring in more^ and labours inceflantly 
to fill up the number of the eleil and to compleat and 
perfect the body of C'oriji. On ver. 17. 13th, Nothing 
renders a paftor more amiable in the light of God, no- 
thing draws down upon him more graces and blciJings and 
more fpeedily advances the Vv'ork ot his fanciification, than 
2 contempt of all earthly things, of the conveniences cf life 
and of life itfelf, that he may approve himfelf a faithful- 
miniftcrof Cir///. On ver. 18, 14th, 1 he facnfiee of a 


414 On the PARABLE 

of initiation, and by the going out y a depar- 
ture by death to the kingdom of perfed peace. 
There is no door or entrance to falvation other 
than by this good Shepherd, and by faith in 
him, who gave his life for the fheep : if we 
would be faved we muft enter in, by this 
door, by true baptifmal regeneration : and fo 
entering, we fhall find that pafturage to feed 
and fupport us here which fhall preferve us to 
life everlafting, and be our immortal food 
hereafter, when we go out : for there is no 
going outy no departure from this life to life 
eternal, unlefs we firft enter thro' the door of 
faith into the life of grace : which if we do, 
we fhall go out, depart into the life of glory 
hereafter : that is, ba'ue the life of grace, which 
is begun here more abundantly hereafter : for 
he faith, 1 am come that they might have life^ 
life now, by their entrance into my church 
and fold, by me the door of the (heep ; and 

good paftor muft be altogether voluntary. He is not in- 
deed mafter of his own life and death, as the fovereign Ma- 
fter was : but he muft be willing to lay down his life, tho' 
he could preferve it. 15th, A paftor ought to have the 
will of God continually before his eyes, and to join obe- 
dience to charity. His'firft facrifice is that of the will." — 
Such are fome of the marks given by this excellent writer, 
oi 2. good paftor : and I doubt not, but this /ketch will be 
fufficient to engage my brethren of the clergy (if haply any 
fuch fhali cundefcend to read my poor performances) to a 
diligent perufal of the whole piece, to which I refer them 
with pleafure. 


Of the Loll Sheep. 413^ 

;tBat they might have it more abundantly^ a more 
abundant life of glory, when they depart and 
go out from the prefent life of grace. — And 
for this life of grace here, they fhall find 
fufficient pafture and fupport in all the bleffed 
mea?js oi gV2iCQ ; for the life of glory hereafter, 
the Lamb himfelf in the midjt of the throne Jh alt 
feed them. — In full dependance upon this, D^- 
vid moft beautifully fings in the xxiiid Pfalm, 
The Lord is my Jhepherdy therefore fhall I want 
nothing. He pall feed me in a green pafturCy 
and lead me forth befide the waters of comfort^ &c. 
And the prophet Ifaiah^ He fid all feed his flock 
like afdepberdy he fiall gather the lambs with 
his arm^ and carry them in his bofom^ and fl^all 
gently lead thofe that are with young, — What can 
more pathetically exprefs the afFed:ion and 
concern of our good Shepherd for his lambsj 
— he (hall gather the lambs with his arm, 
and carry them in his bofom ! near his heart, 
dear to him indeed, and fafely repofed in fuch 
a divine refting place, what can harm, what 
can moleft or trouble them ? He adds, that 
nothing fhall : Ihey Pjall not hunger nor thirfty 
neither fdall the heat nrr fun fmite on them^ for 
he that hath mercy on them fJoall lead them^ even 
by the fprings of water (hall he guide them — He 
promifes moreover by his prophet Ezekiely to 
feed them in a good pafliirCy and upon the high 


41 6 6/; //6^ P A R A B L E 

mountains of Ijrael ffmll their fold be : there Jl: alt 
they lie in a goodfold^ and in a fat pajlure p^all 
they feed upon the mountains of IfraeL I wu'l 
feed my flock and I will caufe them to lie down, 
faith the Lord God: I will feek that which was 
loft, and bring again that which was driven a- 
way : and will bind up that which was broken^ 
and will flrengthen that which was fick^ but I 
will dejlroy the fat and the flrong^ 1 will feed 
them with judgment. 

Such is the care of our good Shepherd for 
his flock, and thus doth he feed them here 
and will feed them eternally. It would be 
cafy *, if my compafs could allow it, to dif- 
play the love and power of owr good Shepherd 
in many other particulars : his fubordinate 
fiephcrds -f however, all the minifters and 


* It would be very profitable to eonficer from the xth 
chapter of St. Johti^ x.\\q fold or church of Chriji and its u- 
jiity — the cafe of thieves and rohhtrs^ of falfe teachers, he- 
relics, and deceivers — of hirelings^ ungracious paftors* 
xkv^ door^ the porter^ the characceriffics of the true fheep, 
^c. — which would afford many ufeful and pleafant fpecu- 
htions. The reader may fee fome of thefc points treated^ 
o^-by Dr. Stanhope — Epifi:. and Gofpels, vol. 3. p. 27, and 


J Magijirates alfo as being; {uhoxi:\n2itt fiepher-ds of th6' 
great Shepherd^ '7toiiti*i(; hccuf — may learn from this xth 
chapter ot St. john^ enter into ofHce and power by a 
lawful call, lawful means, not by ufurpation and bribery, 
or any unjull means. 2 To feek for the inward grace of 
ifie Kily Spir t to guide them in a due ufe of their govern- 

Of the Lojl Skeep. 417 

pa-ftors of his flock may learn from his ex- 
ample, ift, to fpare no pains, to fpend and b^ 
rpent for their flocks, to dedicate all their 
time, powers and labours to their welfare^ 
yea and if need be even to lay down their lives 
for them. 2d, To ufe all their endeavours 
to preferve and proted: them from the arti- 
fices and cruelty of thfe infernal wolf, of all 
falfe doctors and doctrines -, and, 3d, fo to 
feed them with wholefome food and the pure 
milk of the word, that they may grow in 
grace and the fear of the Lord, and may be 
made fit to prefent unto Chrijly as living fa- 
crifices — But how doth this example of the 
chief Shepherd reprove all thole ungracious paf- 
tors, who lord it over God's heritage, who 
Jeed themfehes and ?2ot the feck, and fall under 
the fevere cenfures threatened to fuch by the 
prophet Ezekiel? May God incline the hearts 
of Chrifl:ians to pray for fuch ; and lead us 
all much rather to pity and weep over them, 
than triumphantly cenfure and aggrandize 
their miferies! 

ment to the glory of God and the good of the people- 
3. To knou) their people, to know all their imerelb, con- 
cerns, ^t. that they may the better fatisfy their wants de- 
fend and prote<fl: them. 4. To fupply them with wholefome 
food, proper laws for the defence ot ihtir lives and proper- 
ties. 5. To go before them, to fct tliem a gnod exbrnple 
in all things, and (hew themfelves a t)a*t', rn of obedience 
to thofe laws, which ihey themfelves enadt. 

Vol. Ill, Ee How- 

4i8 Of the P A R A B h E 

However, from a view of our gracious re-* 
deemer in this amiable and condefcending 
charader, we cannot but be filled with the 
higheft love and moft perfeft cot fidence in 
him. This concerns us all. It is our duty 
and will be our happinels — to contemplate 
him in this pleafing point of view : and — to 
acknowledge him as our good fhepherd, who 
hath laid down his life for us, and taken away 
ours and the fins of the whole world by a wil- 
ling facrifice of himfelfon the tree : — to blefs 
him for having condefcended to reprefent 
himfelf to us in that afFeding charader, for 
our comfort, of a Shepherd — whofe weary 
work and anxious labour like that of all others 
is never done and over : whofe conftant care 
and fatigue endures thro' all the night as well 
as the day, knows not any refped: of holy- 
days, but is ever incefiant and ever watchful : 
the flock continually demanding the eye and 
folicitude of its Shepherd. Above all it is our 
duty and will be our happinefs, fo to know 
him, as to hear his voice and to follow him : 
for this is the only fure teftimony, that we 
are his fheep : when we delight in his com- 
mandm^ents in the inner man, and, having 
the hope of eternal life thro' his death, pu- 
rify ourfelves as he is pure, and daily labour 
after an advancement in holinefs. Thus may 


Of the Loft Sheep. 419 

We be fure, that we are of his flock, his fheep, 
his elect, even by a living faith in Chri/1 — and a 
dutiful obedience to his word: and thus may we 
rejoice indeed, fince he hath promifed, and his 
word is figned and fealed by his immaculate 
blood — ^that he will give us eternal life, and 
that no one fhall pluck us out of his hand — 
continue therefore in his love, perfevere in 
the paths of holinefs, regularly, foberly, uni^- 
formly, and as the truth and power of God is 
pledged for your defence, be fnWy per fuadedy 
that neither life nor death, nor afigeh^ nor prin- 
cipalities, nor powers, nor things prefeiit, nor 
things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any 
other creature Jhall be able to feparate you from 
the love of God which is in Chrijt Jefus our 
Lord^ ! 

But behold and adore his love — He hath 
not only laid down his life for his Iheep, and 
fo redeemed all thofe by his blood, who hear 
his voice, believe in, and fo follow him 5 
he hath not only promifed to protedl and pre- 
ferve them from every evil and every danger, 
and to bring them fafe to everlafting life — ^ 
but he hath alfo promifed to fupport and feed 
us during our pilgrimage here : and if the 
great Jehovah be our Shepherd what then can 
we lack ? But he is our fliepherd, and if we 
are truly his fheep, if we know him, as we 
* Rom. viii. 38, 39. 

E e 2 are 

420 Of the PARABLE 

are known of him, love him, becaufe he 
iirft loved us, and depend upon him, as 
fheep on their fliepherd, as children on their 
parent, for good pafture and living fprings 
of v^ater, he will richly fupply us with all 
fpiritual food, nor will he fuffer his chofen 
to want temporal fupport fufBcient, but give 
them in every refpedt day by day their daily 
bread. For if there be any promife clear 
arid evident in the facred Scriptures it is this: 
Seek ye firfl the kingdo?n of God and his righ- 
teotfnefs^ and all theje tKmgs [all things necef- 
fafy to life and well-being here, food and 
raiment] Jhall be added unto you'^ I Oh when 
fhall we learn to believe God, and truft 

his infinite truth ? Lord, increafe our 

faith 1 

And to draw to a conclufion : were ^;ve all 
loft", all by nature gone out of the v/ay, from 
which we confefs daily, that we have erred 
and ftrayed like loft fheep : and did this 
good Shepherd not only come down from 
heaven to feek and to fave that which was loft, 
but lay down his life for us, when he found 
us in the very jaws of the infernal wolf, 
whence he could by no means redeem us, 
without the lofs of his owni itioft precious 

* Matt, vl. 33- 

2 life '^ 

Of the Lojl Sheep. 421 

life: and doth he, when having thus de- 
livered us, preferve us from all dangers and 
proteB us from all evil, doth htfeedw^ with 
the bread of life, with the divine pafturage 
of grace here, and will he feed us with 

the riches of his love in glory hereafter ? 

Then let the ferious reflection on thele things 
incline our fouls to a diligent heed in our fpi- 
ritual walking, that we wander no more out 
of the way in the defert, amongft thorns 
and briars, wolves and evil beafts, to the 
great hazard of our eternal lives 3 that we no 
more leave the flock and fold, nor by any 
means, hy life oxdoSlrine^ break the unity of the 
church of Chrift, but continue regular and 
exadl in the path of life, and labour uni- 
formly to obey all Chrifs comm.andments, 
endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in 
the bond of peace, A faithful obedience, a An- 
gle eye, a diligent heed to Chrift's word, and 
the precepts of his apoftolical church, with 
an humble refignation to his will are the 
pnly fure means to preferve us in the right 
path of dodtrine or pradice, and are the 
grateful tributes we fhould render, when we 
are found, to our good Shepherd, for feeking 
and faving us, when we were lofl. 

And for that he laid down his life for us, 

and greater love than this hath no ?nan — let us 

E e 3 re- 

422 Of the PARABLE 

remember that great commandment, whofe 
obligation arifeth from hence, that we ought 
to love as he hath loved us, — to love our bre- 
thren^ as Cbrijl hath loved us, fo to love, as 
to do them all the good we are able, yea, 
and if need be, even to lay down our lives 
alfo for them ! It was well indeed with 
Chriftianity, when the worft thing its ene- 
mies could fay of its profefTors were — See 
how thefe Chrijiians love one another — Brethren, 
let us all labour, in the love of Chrifiy to give 
his enemies once again the fame caufe of ca- 
lumny ! 

When moreover we refleft, that no other 
ranfom could redeem our fouls but the blood 
of the incarnate God, let us learn duly to 
value that precious blood fhed for our fins : 
and to abhor that Jin^ in every fhape, which 
drew forth that precious blood, and from 
v/hich that precious blood alone can wafh us 
— He hath loved us and wajhed us from our fins 
in his own blood f' / 

And laftly, hath he not only fought and 
found, not only fuffered, bled and died for 
us, hut promifed to proted, feed and fupport 
us here, when we enter into his fold and 
church and to blefs us eternally in heaven, — - 

+ Rev, i, 5. 
% l«t 

Of the Lo/l Sheep. 423 

let us be careful in lively faith to entruft 
ourfelves and all we have to his fatherly pro- 
tedion : and above all, not to defpife this 
facred pafturage, but to feed continually on 
the food of life, that is, upon himfelf the 
true bread of life, as conveyed to us by all 
the means of grace ufed in faith, more efpe- 
cially the word, the blejfed communion, and 
prayer: thus let us feed upon him here, 
and then we may have good hope to eat 
of the true bread, the hidden manna, here- 

And to conclude all, — -to the good Shep- 
herd who fought and faved us, when we 
were loft, and had wandered out of the 
way, let us render fimple obedience, and un- 
feignedly refign our wills up to his divine 

leading. To the Shepherd who bled, and 

died for us, when under the fentence of 
death, let us render with all our hearts infinite 
love and infinite praife, confecrating all our- 
felves, our fouls and bodies, all we are and 
all we have, to his divine honour and glory 
— for he died for all, that they which live^ 
Jlmild not henceforth live unto themfeheSy but 
unto him that died for them and rofe again ^. — 
And from the Shepherd who defends us by 

* 2 Cor. V. 15. 

E e 4 his 

424 0/ //&£• P A R A B L E 

his power and fupports us by his grace, let 
us receive with child-like fimplicity the 
wholefome food : nor dare to contend or 
difpute with him, as if we knew better than 
he, what nourifhment would fuit our fouls ; 
what condition would moft forward our e- 

ternal welfare. And as he is our Shepherd 

let u^ confider what may juftly be expelled 
of us in the relation of (beep — certainly, a 
delight in and attention to the voice of our 
Shepherd— a diligent following of his ex- 
ample, a treading in the fteps, wherein he 
hath gone before us— for the {heep follow 
their fhepherd, when he goeth before them 
■ — Fruitfulnefs in all good works : meeknefs 
and humility, patience and harmleffnefs, 
fimplicity, contentednefs, and a love of chri* 
flian fociety — —each of which virtues "* we 
may be taught from the fheep of the flock, 
and each of which we Chould return to our 
good Shepherd, for his love, his care, and 

And then with full confidence and holy 
hope we may chearfully depend upon and 
joyfully expe<£l from the chief, the trium- 
phant Shepherd, when he fliall come in all 
his glory, When he (hall make the great ancj 

I See particularly Dr. Stanhope, vol. 3, p. ^7. 


Of the Loft Sheep, 4? -^ 

final reparation, to be placed on his right 
hand, as his redeemed fheep, his own pecu- 
liar flock : and to be admitted to thofe 
realms, where we fhall hunger no more, 
nor thirft any more, neither fhall the fun 
nor heat fmite us : for he that hath mercy 
on us fhall lead us, leven by the fprings of 
water fhall he guide us, and we fhall drink 
pf his pleafures as out of a river. 

Now the God of peace that brought again 
from the dead our Lord Jefus^ that great Shep* 
herd of the Sheep , thro* the blood of the everlajl^ 
ing covenant j make you perfe5i in every good 
work^ to do his will^ working in you that which 
is welUpleafing in hisfighty thro' Jefus Chriji 
our Lord : that fo when the chief Shepherd Poall 
appear^ ye may all receive a crown of glory that 
fadeth not away thro Jefus ChriJl^ to whom be 
glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

P I S- 

On the P A R A B L E 

Of the P R O D I G A L S O N. 

Being the Subftance of Three Sermons. 

St. Lukexv. II, 12, 13, 

And befaidy A certain man had two Sons : — 
'And the younger of themfaid to his father^ Fa- 
iher^ give me the portion of goods that falleth 
to me : a?2d he divided ujito them his living — And 
not many days after ^ the younger Son gathered all 
together, and took his journey into a far country % 
and there wajled his fubfiance with riotous living, 

¥WkW^Yi\^ whole xvth chapter of St. 
^ T W ^^^^ is full of the greateft confo- 
)ft( ^ lation, and abounds with the moft 

k.)K^^-^ joyful tidings to the fouls of fin- 
ners : it jfliines like a bright and diftinguifh'd 


of the Prodigal Son, 427 

gem in the midft of the gofpel crown : and 
in three moft beautiful and expreffive parables 
fets before our view that moft comfortable 
dodrine of remiffion, of free pardon of all 
our offences upon our fincere repentance and 
return to our heavenly Father. Each parable, 
that of the loft feep, of the loft fenny and the 
loft or prodigal Son^ is defign*d to inculcate the 
fame great truth, exprefs'd in our Saviour's 
own application of them, " that there is joy in 
heaven and in the prefence of the holy angels 
over one finner that repenteth.*' And the oc- 
cafion of our Saviour's delivering thefe three 
parables, (as was obferved in the former dif-- 
courfe) throws great light upon them : parti- 
cularly on this of the prodigal Sony which I 
propofe now to conlider. Then drew near unto 
b'tmy fays St. hukcy all the public a7i$ and finner i 
for to hear him. And the Pharifees and Scribes 
murmured y Jayingy This man receiveth finner s^ 
and eateth with them I a matter of great offence 
to thofe felf-righteous, felf-juftified fcribes 
and Pharifees. To convince them however 
of the evil and abfurdity of fuch murmuring, 
our Saviour fpoke thefe following parables, 
and to fhew them that they ought rather to 
rejoice herein: fince the recovery of finners 
was the work upon which he was fent ; fince 
he came not to call the righteous but finners 


428 0?i the PARABLE 

to repentance, and fince there was more joy in 
heaven over one finner fo repenting, than over 
ninety and nine juft perfons, that need no re- 
pentance: juft as there is more joy upon 
earth on the recovery of a thing that was loft, 
than on account of that which we have fafe in 
our pofTefiion, and are in no fears about : not 
that the thing loft is dearer in itfelf, but only 
by accident, becaufe it was lojl^ and therefore 
bad raifed our anxiety, and is found, and 
therefore occafions our joy. This our divine 
teacher beaatifully exemplifies firft in the pa- 
rable of the lojl iheep^ upon which all the 
fhepherds care is employ'd, while the reft of 
his flock continues fafe in the fold 5 and when 
he has found it, he rejoices more io this one 
llieep, than for the whole flock, and for this 
plain reafon, becaufe they were fafe, and this 
which had been loft, was found. The fame 
is expreft in the parable of a woman, who 
had loft one of her ten pieces of filver, which 
having found, {lie rejoices more for that piece, 
than for the other nine, which had caufed lef^ 
folicitude, and fo, in that refpcCt, caus'd lefs 
joy. — And in a more full and beautiful man- 
ner he Ihews not only this particular but the 
great readinefs of God to pardon and to receive 
returning finners, under the fimihtude of a 
Father, who had ^wo Sons: the younger of 


Of the Prodigal Son. 429 

whom not content to live in his Father's houfej 
fafe under his protection and happy under his 
eye, defired his Father to give him the portion 
of goods which fell to his fhare : and having 
obtained his defire, as if the prefence and 
neighbourhood of fo kind and indulgent a 
Father was irkfome and grievous to him, 
as being doubtlefs no inconfiderable reflraint 
to his evil prad:ices -— he gathered all toge- 
ther, and took his journey into 2^ far diftant 
country, where he had an opportunity to give 
a loofe to his wicked inclinations, and where 
he wafted all hisfubftance, with riotous Hving. 
After he had fpent all, the evil day came: a 
mighty famine arofe in that land : and he be- 
gan, — poor thoughtlefs prodigal, now to feefl 
the pinchings of want, and the neceffities of 
hunger. He went therefore in this diftrefs and 
join'd himfelf to a citizen of that country: 
willing to try all things, rather than return to 
an indulgent parent and humble himfelf before 
him. This citizen, having a juft contempt of 
his paft prodigality^— for fuch fpendthrifts are 
always defpicable in diftrefs — employed him* 
in the meaneft and moft contemptible offices: 
he fent him into his fields to feed fwine: a 
change indeed from a life of voluptuoufnefs 
and gaiety, a life of pleafurc and excefs!-^ 
But fo great v^^as hunger, {q mighty his dif- 


433 On the P ARABLE 

trefs, that he would even have been conteftt 
in this miferable ftate, could he have filled his 
belly v^ith the hufks which the fwine did 
eat: but no man gave to him, no manftiew'd 
any the leaft compaffion towards him, fo that 
the very fwine were in a better condition 
than this miferable prodigal ! 

It was the feeling hereof, which brought 
him to himfelf : he had been all this time 
in a kind of reverie : a ftate of madnefs 
and utter forgetfulnefs ; but now coming to 
himfelf he faid, how many hired fervants 
of my Father, have bread enough and to 
fpare: and I perifh with hunger! undeferv- 
ing as I am, I will make trial of his favour 
and mercy : I will arife and go to my Father^ 
for fuch he ftill is, and I tho*' wretched andlofl: 
am yet his Soii^, and I will fay to him. Fa* 
ther, I have finned againft heaven and before 
thee, and am no more worthy to be called 
and treated as thy Son: I cannot expedl that 
happinefs, my behaviour has juftly deprived 
me of all right to it — Make me, only make 
me as one of thy hired fervants. And having 
thus refolved, he arofe and made hafte to 
come to his Father ! — And here behold-— 
what a fcene of tendernefsand afFedlion breaks 
upon our view : — while he was yet afar off, 
his Father faw him: his bowels yearn'd to- 

Of the Prodigal Son. 430 

wards him, he had compaffion on his loft 
and ruined child: paternal love would not 
fuffer him to forbear : he ran with all the 
fpeed of that paternal love, to meet him, fell 
on his neck and kiffed him. — The Son en- 
couraged by this kind reception, neverthelefs 
falls down at his Father's feet, and begins to 
make confeffion of his faults, to plead his 
own unworthinefs, to requeft his Father's 
pardon : — Father ^ faid he, I have finned 
both againft heaven and before thee, and 
am no more worthy to be called thy 

Son But he was fuffered to proceed no 

further: the love of his parent prevents the 
reft, and he commands his fervants to bring 
the beft robe, and put on him, to put a ring 
on his hand, and fhoes on his feet: and to 
kill the fatted calf, that they might eat and 
be merry. For this my Son, faid he, was dead^ 
and is alive again ^ was loft and is found. And 
they began to be merry,— as there was great 
caufe, more efpecially with the Son, thus 
reftor'd to his Father's houfe and favour. 

During this tranfadion the elder brother 
was in the field, properly employed in his 
Father's bufinefs: but as he return'd from 
thence, drew near to the houfe, and heard 
founds of mirth, mufic and dancing, he call'd 
one of the fervants and enquired, what thefe 


432 OffheVARABL'E 

things meant: and being told, that his brd-- 
ther was returned home, and that his fa- 
ther had killed the fatted calf, becaufe he 
had received him fafe and found, he was 
much difpleafed, very angry, and there- 
fore would not go in. Upon which his 
father came out and intreated him. But he 
told him, lo, thefe many years do Iferve thee, 
neither tranfgreffed I at any time, thy com- 
mandment, and yet thou never gaveft me a 
kid, that I might make merry with my fricnds". 
but as foon as this thy [on — o vm o-a arc; ! who 
bath devoured thy fubftance with harlots, 
thou haft killed for /j//;/the fatted calf! — The 
father, with the moft amiable and coridefcend- 
ing tendernefs replied. Son, thou art ever with 
me, and all that I have is thine. But it was 
very meet and right that we fhould make 
merry and be glad -, for this thy brother 
v^as deadj and is alive again, was loft and is 
found. — 

Thus ftands this moft beautiful and e?ti- 
preflive parable, which may vie with all 
profane writings for the excellency of its 
painting ; and which equals every other pa- 
rable of our Saviour for the fweetnefs of doe- 
trine and abundance of confolation, which it 
brings to every linful foul of man. — There are 
three expofitions commonly given of this pa- 
rable : 

Of the Prodigal Son. 433 

rable : each of which may, I fuppofe, have 
fome place in its original defign : for it de- 
ferves to be remark'd and rememiber'd, that 
the parables and do(5trines of our bleffed Sa- 
viour are by no means ever to be confined 
abfolutely to one fingle point of view : fince 
frequently they have relation to different ob- 
jeds, and hereby abundantly evidence the 
riches and depth of the manifold wifdom of 
God. — In this parable, for inftance, wnder 
confideration, the great and principal doc- 
trine propofed to be particularly inculcated, 
(as appears from the context, and the occa- 
iion of this difcourfe) is, " that finners upon 
repentance are gladly received into favour :" 
or, " that there is joy in heaven over one 
finner that repenteth." — But ftill, as was juft 
now obferved, there are two other expofi- 
tions of this parable, each of which may, and 
the latter of which doubtlefs mu/i have place 
in it. — I will juft in brief propofe them to 
you : and afterwards confine myfelf to the pa- 
rable, in that particular, which appears, to 
me at leaft, its principal, but which certainly 
is to us its moft affedting fenfe : " the great 
readinefs of our heavenly Father to receive 
us worthlefs prodigals, when we return and 
confefs our own unworthinefs before him." 
Happy will it be for us, and may his good 
Vol. III. N?. 10, Ff Spirit 

434 Of the PARABLE 
Spirit blefs our contemplations on this parable 
to that end, if the fenfe of this his exceeding 
great love to and care for us, may incline our 
hearts to leave the filthy, wretched fervice of 
fatan and fin, and to return with all our fpeed 
to the houfe and bofom of our afFedlionate, 
merciful Father, with whom is the fulnefs of 
joy, and at whofe right hand there are plea- 
fures for evermore ! 

Ift then, many, not to fay the greateft part 
of the ancient writers expound this parable 
of Adam ^ : to whom the image of God was 
given, with many other excellent gifts, which 
he might have ufed happily, had he been 
content to ftay and ufe them in his Father's 
houfe. But like this younger brother, who 
foolifhly defired his portion of goods to him- 
felf, that he might be his own mafter, under 
no confinement or reftridtion, fo Adam was 
unwilling to remain under obedience and con- 
finement to the divine precept ; he was de- 
firous to have a free ufe of the things in pa- 
radife, and by the devil's infligation affeded a 
wretched independency, which caufed him to 
break the divine command, and to eat of the 
forbidden tree to obtain the knowledge of 

* See their expofitions and particularly St. ChryfoJlo7rC% 
remarks on them in his Homily on this parable. 


Of the Prodigal Son, 435 

good and evil. Thus he loft for himfelf and 
his pofterity the fubftance put into his poffef- 
fion at firft : but God, his Father, upon his 
and his pofterity's return, hath provided fuch 
grace and compaflion for them, that they 
may be reinftated in their former place and 
favour. Which grace not being granted to 
the higher order of intelleftual beings, the 
fallen fpirits, is the caufe of their murmuring 
againft God and man, figured out by the 
anger of the elder brother in this parable : 
for it is conjedlured by many, that the grace 
propofed for man thro' Chriji, (before the 
worlds v^ere made) in cafe of his fall, was 
the principal occafion of the rebellion of the 
apoftate angels. 

Others, Ildly, and with a greater fhew of 
probability, expound this parable of the two 
people, the Jews and Gentiles^ who have both 
one Father y even God, And while thev both 
continued in their Father's houfe, the true 
church, they wanted nothing : there was 
plenty of food for the foul, there was fub- 
ftance enough for them both. But after the 
younger brother, (the Gentiles) poffefled of his 
fhare of knowledge, went into a ftrange 
country, left God, and fpent his fubftance, 
the evidence and knowledge of God, fell into 
fpiritual fornication, into idolatry, and wafted 
Ff2 all 

4s6 Of the? AR A B L E 

all he had in riotous living, all his knowledge 
of God in the looie and abfurd ceremonies of 
idolatry : then behold, a mighty famine arofe 
in that land ! a famine not of breads nor oftbirfl 
of water ^ but of hearing the word oj Gody as 
Amos faith*: in this hunger and dreadful 
dearth he joined himfelf to the fervice of the 
devil, and worked all uncleannefs with gree- 
dinefs. But finding nothing to fatisfy his fpi- 
ritual hunger, this prodigal (thefe Gentiles^) 
long eftranged to his father, upon coming to 
the knowledge of himfelf by this fpiritual fa- 
mine and his own fevere want, returned home 
in humble confeffion, was readmitted into fa- 
vour, and bleft with the privileges of the 
Gofpel. But the elder brother, the Jewijh 
people^ who were daily employ'din the field of 
the legal ceremonies, and long bore the heavy 
yoke of the law, feeing the Gentiles received 
fo eafily to the grace of God, to the remiffion 
of fins, and the hope of everlafting life, mur- 
mured at it : and as we gather from the Ads 
of the Apoftles and their Epiftles, were often 
unwilling (even the judaizing Chriftians) that 
the Gentiles fliould be received to the grace of 
the Gofpel, unlefs they took upon them the 
yoke of the law : as you may read at large in 
the xvth Chapter of the A^s : and as I have 

*^ Amos viii. ii. 


Of the Prodigal Son. 437 

had occafion before to remark in my Difcourfe 
on the parable of the Labourers in the Vine- 
yard. — But God out of his great compaffion, 
pleading the caufe gently with the elder bro- 
ther, to whom he offers all things, upon fup- 
poiition of his continuance in obedience, de- 
livered the nations from this burden : for it 
feemed good to the Holy Ghoft and to the 
Apoftles, adling by his authority, to lay upon. 
the Gentiles no greater burdens, than fome 
things abfolutely neceffary for the then ftate 
of the church, not deiiring to put a yoke upon 
their neck, which neither we, faith St. Peter y 
nor our fathers were able to bear, — Thus the 
parable has a very clear and good expofition : 
which yet will be much confirmed if you con- 
lider the ftate of the Gentiles as defcribed by 
St. Paul^ in his firft Chapter to the Romans : 
w^here you will find that they were at firft pof- 
feflfed of a fufficient ftock of knowledge, their 
portion of goods was given them, that which 
might be known of God ^ was manifeft to them : 
for he himfelf revealed it, God himfelffiewed 
it unto them : but when they knew God^ they 
glorified him not as God, neither were thankfuly 
hut became vain in their imaginations, and their 
foolijl: heart was darkened : they fell into the 
moft ftiamelefs and foolifh idolatry, worfhip- 
ing birds, and beafts, and creeping things : 
F f 3 upon 

438 On the V ARABLE 

upon which God gave them up to a reprobate 
mind, and they were put to feed f%vine by the 
hard mafter whom they ferved, dijldomiiring 
their own bodies with the filthieft and moft 
abominable uncleanneffes.— And the words of 
the father, as applied to God and his deahngs 
with the Jews are alfo, in this view of the 
parable, exactly confonant : Son^ all that I 
bave^ is thine : all the bleffings and privileges 
of the Gofpel are thine, upon condition you 
remain in myhoufe obedient, come in, and 
eat of the fatted calf, that is flain, and re- 
joice with us on the recovery of your loft bro- 
ther — for love is the fulfilling of the law, 
And thus the murmuring of the elder brother 
is explained to us without any the leaft diffi- 
culty : and as the offence of receiving the 
Gentiles to pardon and peace, thro' faith in 
Chrijl^ was fo great a ftumbling-block to the 
Jews s there can be no doubt, 1 imagine, but 
that our Saviour intended to obviate and re- 
move it by this incomparable parable. 

However from the context and the occafion 
of delivering it, it is plain that the Hid inter- 
pretation isthefirft in defign and importance : 
the publicans and finners drew near to hear 
Jefus ; upon this the pharifees murmured : 
and upon their murmuring, he delivered this 
^nd two more parables to fhew, that if they 
would be like God and the holy angels, fo 


OJ the Prodigal Son, 439 

far from murmuring, they fliould rejoice at 
feeing finners willing to embrace his dodlrine t ^ 
" becaufe there is joy in the prefence of God 
and his angels over one finner that repenteth, 
more than over ninety and nine juft perlbns, 
who need no repentance ^^" 

The parable conlidered in this view, natu- 
rally divides itfelf into three parts : there are 
three capital figures, wherein the prodigal re- 
prefents himfelf to our view. Ifl. We fee 
him in all his fhort-liv'd happinefs, in his7?w- 
fuljlate, lid. In a ftate of repentance ; and 
II Idly, in a ftate oi forgivenefs and jujiifica" 
tion. So that the life of fin, the nature of 
true repentance, and the fruits and efFed:s of 
fuch repentance, are the three great points of 
doctrine, which in this parable offer them- 
felves to our ferious meditation. 

And Ift. Herein we are prefented with 
the life of a finner, in the mofl flrong and 
lively colours : as well as with the fteps or 
feveral gradations leading on from fin to fin. 
All indeed, tho* finners, do not run the fame 

* Clement Jlexandrinus, in the 2d book of his Stromata 
obferves, that there is one fort of repentance for thofe who 
have lived in the ignorance of Gentilifm — and another, 
which God of his goodnefs grants to thofe, who being be- 
lievers, are guilty of fome offence. " Repentance, Ger- 

hard obferves, often fignifies the whole work of converfton 
— fometimes only contrition and godly forrow. All men at 
all times ftand in need of the latter — True believers need 
not the former. Refer this to note, p. 391, foregoing. 

F f 4 length 

440 0;; /*^ P A R A B L E 

length of riot and wickednefs : but the cafe 
is put the ftrongeft poffible in this parable, 
that there might be comfort and hope for the 
greateft finners upon true converjion to God, 
which is the main and effential thing in the 
chriflian reHgion, and neceffary to all. — A 
certain man had two fons : and the younger of 
themjaid to his father. Father, ghe me the por- 
tion of goods, that Jalletb to ?ne, A?2d he di- 
'vided unto them his living. And not many days 
after, the youjjgerfon gathered all together, and 
took his journey into a far country and there 
wajledbisjubjiance with riotous living-^ devoured 
it with harlots, ver. 30. And when he hadfpent 
all, there arofe a mighty famine in that la?td ; 
and he began to be in want. And he went and 
.joined himfelf to a citizen of that country, and 
hefent him into his fields tofeedfwine. And he 
would fain have filled his belly with the hufks 
which the fwine did eat, and no man gave unto 
him * / 

Wretched prodigal, how poor, how fhort- 

* He did not abflain from ^^i-\dthufks, we may fuppofe, 
out of principle, but only becaufe they were /wines food, and 
fuch as he could not fiJl his belly with ; tho' fo kverQ was 
his hunger, he would fain have done it, had it been pcf- 
fible. His maftergave him money for his wages — but the 
lamine was fo great, he cculd get no food — The paflage 
would be more clear, if the lait claufe were rendered, as 
the ellipfis requires, and no man gave him meat, qx gave 
him to eat — or perhaps it would be clearer ftill if it were, 
he would fain^ kc. — For no man gave unto him to eat. 


Of the Prodigal So?7. : ^ 44 1 

llv'd was thy blifs ! How fpeedily is the evil 
day come — how great and deep thy diftrefs ! 
Look, O finner, and behold thyfelf, in him ; 
and learn what fearful famine will enfue, if 
thou contlnueft, like him, to wafte all thy 
fubftance in riot and excefs. — Obferve the 
fource and feveral fteps of his fatal fall. 
Pride and affedlation of independency is the 
root of all fin, the beginning of all evil. It 
was the firft error of our firft parents : they 
wanted to be as Gods: nay it caft Lucijer, 
that morning'Jiar^ himfelf from heaven : to 
this that Lucifer firft tempted our Saviour. 
And this was ih^jirji offence of the prodigal ; 
he wanted to be ijidependent , He could not 
bear — and what finner can ? — the reftraints 
of his Father's houfe and law : fo he departs 
from that houfe, from the prefence and fear 
of God : and the fure confequence of this is 
a blind and headlong plunge into all difobe- 
dience and intemperance : for when pride in- 
duceth man to follow his own carnal rea- 
fon, he muft obey the dictates of that flefhly 
wifdom, and thus wafte the talents and 
fubftance given him of God in riotous 
living. And when thefe are wafted, and the 
knowledge of God defaced in the heart, the 
majier which finners ferve, puts them to the 
vileft employments, fets them \.o feed fwine^ 
to ferve the filthieft lufts : the fervice of which 


442 On /^^ P A R A B L E 

is the greateft drudgery, and brings the fe- 
vereft wa?2t 2.\\^j amine on the foul, a want, a 
pinching want of peace and folid comfort ; 
and till this want is feverely/?// indeed, which 
outward calamities for the moft part imprefs, 
no finner, however wretched, thinks of returil- 
ing to God. All means elfe are to be tried? 
while they httle think, that after they have 
fought for reft and peace in every earthly 
thing, the foul will ftill remain hungry and 
in famine, miferable and in diftrefs as before, 
and till they come to themfelves, and recoiled: 
the bleffings of their Father's houfe, till they 
refolve to return unto God, no peace is to 
be had upon earth, and none we know in a 
future world. For in thh world wq mufl and 
JJjall have tribulation ; in Cbriji alone is it pof-^ 
iible for man K.o find peace. 

But if when men find this fpiritual want, if 
when they find their fouls uneafy and diflatis- 
fied, they will not try the right means but fly 
fromGoA rather than to him — they muft expedl 
the v/ages which the fervice of fatan fupplies. 
Such a condudt it is, that occafions the 
ilrange melancholy and uneafmefs, which pof- 
feiTes many even in the midfl: of every earthly 
blefling : they feel the fpiritual want^ yet will 
not co?ne to themfelves : could they once do 
that, recolleding the bleffings of their hea- 
venly Father's houfe, and fo return in true 
3 con- 

Of the Prodigal Son. 443 

contrition, then would they find him as re- 
prefented in this parable, ready to forgive and 
forward to pardon. 

We may all learn this important leffon from 
} the parable : we may all fee ourfelves in it : 
we may each one fay, in ferious felf-examina- 
txon.Lord, is it I? and to each one of us it may 
be replied, Thou fayeft. Thou art one of thefe 
prodigal fons : thou art he, that haft left thy 
Father's houfe, and wafted thy fubftance in 
riotous living. To thee was given in baptifm 
the gift of the Holy Spirit, new life, falvation, 
the anfwer of a good confcience, and in fine, 
a right to the kingdom of heaven — Thefc at 
baptifm were put into thy power and poffef- 
fion : and while in the houfe of thy Father, 
in his Churchy whereinto we are all thus by 
baptifm admitted, it is the will of that Father 
that thou fhouldeft be led by the Spirit, mor- 
tify the deeds of the flefh, fight manfully a- 
gainft fin, the world and the devil — and not, 
like a traiterous deferter, fight againft him in 
the fer vice of thefe— and yet, alas, this, thou 
muft confefs, this thou haft done -For his 
fervice hath been grievous to thee, and there- 
fore his prefence unpleafing. Wherefore with 
the prodigal, thou has defired to leave thy 
Father's houfe, to become thine own mafter, 
and to feek for happinefs in a far country. 
Not wanting to be led by the Spirit : not 


44+ On the V A R AB L E 
wanting to hear and live according to the 
word of God, nay hardening thine heart a- 
gainft it, 'thou haft feparated thyfelf afar from 
the houfe, the prefence, and the protection 
of thy Father. And thus thou haft wafted , 
all thy goods, thus thou haft quenched and 
grieved the Spirit which thou haft received, 
thus thou haft made fhipwreck of thy faith 5 
the fervor of thy prayers is extinguifhed, and 
thou art brought to fore diftrefs and in dan- 
ger of perifhing eternally : — Up therefore, up 
and return, think of thy mifery, and flee to 
thy God. 

Thus if every fmner would behold himfelf 
in this prodigal, fee himfelf in the evil of his 
heart departing from God ; abufing his good 
gifts, yea and wafting them in a courfe of 
iniquity, he would foon find that his foul was 
in that ftate of need to which the prodigalii 
was reduced, and foon think of returning to- 
his offended Father.— -But the misfortune isS, 
as the prodigal did not feel his want till the 
famine came, fo too frequendy finners feel 
not their fpiritual want, but go on in a courfe 
of fin, thoughtlefs and regardlefs of the con- 
fequences ; till God is pleafed to lay his hand 
upon them, and by fome outward evil to 
fhew them their inward mifery. While in 
the full enjoyment of their lufts, pleafuresand 


Of the Prodigal Son. 445 

profits, men regard not, they think not of 
God — nay, when in the full career of their 
vices, they are like the deaf adder, ftopping 
their ears to all the calls of God inward 
and outward. But he, far more compaf- 
fionate to us, than we, poor unthinking 
mortals, to ourfelves, not defirous of our 
death, not forgetful of his love to usj — 
the better to aroufe us to a due fenfe and 
feeling of our ftate, fends fome famine^, 
fome outward afflidion, of what kind fo- 
ever, to remind us of our mifery, and to caufe 
us to repent and return. When he finds that 
mercy and forbearance will not do 3 then he 
lays his hand upon us ; and happy would it 
be for every Son of man, if they would al- 
ways confider the calamities which fall upon 
them, as inftruments defign'd by their mer- 
ciful Father to awaken their eyes, to (hew 
them the extreme poverty of their fouls, and 
the danger they are in of perijhing eternally 
with hunger infatiable. 

Yet alas how long is it before men can be 
brought to this knowledge ! deplorably mife- 
rable was the ftate to which this poor prodi- 
gal was reduced : and yet how long was it 
before he thought of returning to his graci- 
ous Father. Pride, fear and fhame confpired 
to keep him back. He tried therefore all 


446 0;^ /;&^ P A R A B L E 

other means, and rather confented to feed 
fwine, the mod bafe and fervile occupation, 
nay and rather chofe to be fed with fwines 
food, the vile hufks, than to humble him^ 
felf and return : nothing but the very laft ex- 
tremity could force him to it — nothing but | 
the danger of periJJAng with hunger. And fa 
the finner is frequently reduced, before he 
can be perfuaded to humble his ftout heart 
before God. Indeed every finner in his mofl 
flourifhing flate may be confidered in as 
wretched a fituation, as the prodigal : for he 
IS a fervant and flave of fin and the devil, 
the hardefl and worfl of tafk-mafters, he is 
employed, in their fervice to feed and nourifh 
lufls and paffions; forrow and uneafinefs, want 
and diflrefs are his wages : he wallows like 
a fwine in the filth of vile affedions, and yet 
from thence can find nothing to fatisfy the 
hunger of his rapacious foul. Look at the fin- 
ner indulging fenfual pleafures ; and afk him 
when the famine is fallen on his land, and he 
is brought low by ficknefs or fuffering, afk 
him, what fruits he hath in thefe things — and 
he will tell you, that he finds nothing to 
fatisfy his wants, nothing but gnawing an- 
guifli and keen remorfe, fad bitternefs of foul 
and heart in the recolledlion of thofe things 
whereof he is aftiamed, and the end whereof 


OJ the Prodigal Son. 447 

is death — The lover of the world, its riches, 
pride and ambition finds in the end, that he 
hath been gathering water in a fieve all his 
life long; all his life long labouring to fill 
that, which runs out fafter than he can put it 
in, and in the end horribly deceives his hopes 
anddifappoints his fanguine expeftations. And 
fo every finner, when they come to them- 
felves, and are enabled, by a right mind, to 
weigh the fruits of their offences in the ba- 
lance of true felicity, will find them not on- 
ly incapable of giving eafe, but incapable of 
removing heavy anguifh from their hearts. — 
More efpecially the young, gay, thoughtlefs, 
prodigals of our times may fee and behold 
themfelves in this ilrong pidlure : in this 
younger Son they may fee, what their fepa- 
rating themfelves, from their Fathers houfe, 
from the fear and favour of God, will at 
length bring them to : they may fee the 
fruits of their riotous and intemperate living, 
fure want, certain hunger, a hunger, worfe 
jthan of bread, a hunger of foul, which un- 
kfs it be fatisfied here by the true bread of 
life, will remain upon them dreadfully vio- 
lent and gnawing thro' all eternity ! and what 
fruit can they have, do they exped: from their 
^t^ices — ? Even ihame, difeafe, poverty and 
^(Contempt ! while in the mad career they may 


448 On the P A R A B L E 

fancy themfelves happy ; but when they fliall 
recover their fenfes, then convidion willfting 
them with fevere reproaches ! would God they 
were wife to confider in this their day : would 
God they would turn from their evil, that fo 
iniquity might not prove their ruin ! would 
God, they were fo wife as to improve every 
misfortune, every calamity to their fouls good: 
and to make every licknefs, and forrow an " 
occafion of heedful examination, that fo they 
might perceive at once their fpiritual hunger, 
recover their right mind, and turn to God in 
true repentance ! 

I fay, recover their right mind : for from 
this parable we learn, that all linners are 
efteemed in the fight of God, while they 
continue in a life of fin, not only as dead^ and 
as blind, but alfo as mady and having entirely 
loft their fenfes : and therefore it is faid of the 
prodigal, th^t when he came to hi mfelfy he then 
bethought himfelf of his Fathers houfe : Then 
he determined to go in confeflion of his fins, 
to acknowledge his own unworthinefs, and to 
beg atceptance from his Father. — And as the 
day will aflliredly come wherein however 
iniquity, the love of the world, its lufts, 
pleafures and vanities may now deprive you of 
all fenfe and wifdom towards God, astheday 
will come, when all muft be bf^ciight to them- 

0/ the Prodigal Sen. 449 

feives, to a true knowledge and feeling of their 
ftate — O endeavour, my beloved, to embrace 
that day and come to yourfelves, before it be 
too late and your eyes be opened only to a 
fenfe of your mifery and condemnation, to a 
fight of thofe eternal torments, that black 
dungeon and thofe horrid chains referved for 
the mad and impenitent offenders againfttheir 
God ! — And as all men are but too guilty ia 
this refpedt, that they have by their fins 
offended God, troden under foot the blood 
of Chriji and neglefted the grace of the Spirit 
given in baptifm ; and fince to all alike the 
favour and grace of repentance is offered: let 
us not defpife fo great falvation, but with the 
prodigal come to ourfelves, and refolve to return. 

In order to which let us be careful to im- 
prove every outward or inward afflidion to 
this bleffed purpofe, and confider it as fent 
of our heavenly Father to bring us to our 
fenfes: let us carefully enter into our own 
hearts, get a clear knowledge of their exceed- 
ing finfulnefs and of our own fallen finful 
wretched ftatc— let us in earnefl: prayer im- 
portunately requeft the Father of mercies to 
enlighten our eyes, and to fhew us ourfelves: 
let us be diligent in hearing the word, and 
take every convenient occafion to come under 
the moft awakening preaching of it: let us 

^^-^- "I- G g conti^ 

450 On ^/^^ P A R A B L E 
continually meditate on thefoulnefs, emptinefs,' 
vanity and fhort duration of a life of fin — the 
length of eternity — the joys of heaven, the hor- 
rors of hell — J^fas dying on the erofs to fave 
us from the one, Jefus dying on the crofs to 
purchafe for us the other — and, by Gods grace, 
ufing thefe and the like means, w^e ihall co?7ie 
to ourfelves — and be enabled in fincerity thus 
to confefs our un worth inefs and difobedience, 
our (hameful rebellion againft the beft and 
moft tender of fathers, the kindeft and moft 
loving of mafters and of friends— ^ Happy they 
v^ho v^ith real contrition can fay — " O v^hat 
haft thou done, my foul, what haft thou done, 
who haft fo fliamefuUy and malicioufly offend- 
ed, fo good and gracious a Father ! how haft 
thou wafted thofe goods, thofe precious gifts 
and graces, which he gave to thee ; how haft 
thou employed them in the fervice of fin— *• 
how often has he call'd and invited thee to 
return — while thou haft refifted his holy Spi- 
rit, and given up thyfelf tothe fervice of the 
worft of mafters, who hath degraded thee 
beneath the brute creation, the vikft animals,^ 
in making thee a flave to filthy lufts and in- 
ordinate affedtions. — Father, thus have I finr 
ed grievoufly before thee, and yet as thou aft; 
my Father, reconcird to me by the blood of 
thy dear Son — even yet I dare humble myfelf 


Of the Prodigal Son. AS^o: 

before thee, even yet I dare caft myfelf upon 
the riches of thy mercy! — I have nothing id 
plead, nothing whereon to depend, but thy tjier- 
ay in Cbriji JefuSy the lamb of God, which tak- 
eth away the fins of the whole world — I ani 
Unworthy to be called thy Son, I arri unworthy 
the feaft of thy favours : make riie but as one 
of thy hired fervants : O caft me not wholly 
out of thine houfe, do with me here in pnuifli- 
ment and corredioh whatever (hall feem good 
to thee— But, O Father of mercies, caft me 
not out, caft me not out for ever from thy 
|)refence and the houfe of thy peace." 

Thus if we confefs our fins and our unvvof« 
thinefs before God, and thus if we come td 
him, doing as we cofifefs, ^e (hall find hint 
gracious and merciful, yea abundant in mer- 
cy, ready to receive u& and running to em- 
brace xh^ returning prodigal^ which naturally 
leads to the lid thing propofed, which fhall be 
the fubjedl of our next difcourfe. — But let us 
well remember, that unlefs we do return, we 
cannot fhare his favour, we can have fto fa- 
therly love and tendernefs (hewn to us — May 
we therefore one and ally feeling and con- 
fefling our wants, and groaning beneath the 
fenfe of our finful unworthinefs, come to a 
due fenfe of ourfelves, take up the refolu- 
tion of the prodigal, and fall down at the 
feet pf our heavenly Father, faying, Faihett 


452 0» //6^ P A R A B L E &c: ^ 

1 have finned againfi heaven and before thee^ and 
am no more worthy to be called thy Son, And 
may that Father accept us, out of his free 
and unbounded love, clothe us with the beft 
robe, and caufe us to fit down with him for 
ever at the feaft of everlafting joy. Amen. 

D I S. 

On the P A R A B L E 

Of the P R O D I G A L S O N, 

St. Luke XV. 1 8, 19, 20, 

1 mil arife and go to my Father^ and will fay 
unto him^ Father ^ 1 have finned againji hea-- 
ven and before thee^ and am no more worthy 
to be called thy Son : make me as one of thy 
hired fervants : And he arofe and came to his 

Wyi&iyi^ Obferved to you in a former fer- 
O J Q mon on this beautiful parable, that 
^ ^ there were three expofitions com- 

5«L^)!^)S(jmS monly given of it : the frjly re- 
ferring it to the cafe of Adam fallen, offend, 
ing, and received again into grace and favour: 
G g 3 the 

^54 On the PARABLE 

the fecond^ to the ge7itiles, whom they fup- 
pofe figur'd out by this younger brother as by 
the elder they underftand the 'Jews: and the 
third, agreeable to the context, conceiving 
|:he grand fcopp of the parable referable to 
the cate of prodigal and repenting finners.— 
Having given you fome general hints touch- 
ing the two former expofitions, I propofed to 
dwell more largely upon the 3d, ar,q in or- 
der thereto it was remarked, that the parable 
confider'd in this view naturally divides itlelf 
into three parts, ift, the lif<e of a finner, adly, 
his repentance, and 3dly, his reception to 
pardon and peace : each beautifully difplay'd 
in the cafe of X^av^^ younger SoUy who wafting 
his fubftance in riotous living, at length came 
tp hlnifelf, arofe, and return'd to his Father^ 
and was received by him \yith the higheft 
^emonftrations of love and regard. 

In fpeaking of the firft of thefe, the life of a 
finner, I obfery*d that in the cafe of this prodi- 
^^/ was pidur'd out to us the feveral gracjations 
of fin, the ftcps by which men defcend from 
iniquity to iniquity ; for all vice has its begin- 
ing, and it is an old remark, that no man in an 
ifiilant arrived at the very height of wickednefs: 
which ihould make every one for himfelf ns 
well as others particularly careful of thefmall- 
eft and very leafl appearances of evU :• for. 

Of the Prodigal Son. 45^ 

he that defpifeth fmall things^ fiall fall by little 
and little. The Son firfl departed from his 
Father's houfe : the reftraint of which he 
could not brook: that was contrary to his 
evil defires. So the finner departs from God, 
throws off religious reftraint : looks upon it, 
(or is willing to do fo) as the bugbear of mo* 
th'ers and nurfes : begins to jeft at what he 
before efteem'd : flies from the public and 
omits the private fer vice of God: defpifes con- 
fcientious and religious men, and every thing 
pertaining to God becomes his mockery and 
contempt: or if he keeps up an outfide form 
of religion — as the pharifaical finner often 
finds neceifary for worldly ends^ — yet remain- 
ing in fin, his heart is as much eftrang d to 
God, as if he never approach'd the place 
where his honour dwelleth. — Thus perhaps 
he fails profperoufly along for a while on a 
fmooth and even fea : the prodigal^ for fome 
time led a joyous and a chearful life: he 
crown'd himfelf with rofe buds, and enjoying 
the prefent hour dreamt not at all of the 
future evil day. Lull'd by the world, the 
lufts of the flefh, the luft of the eyes and the 
pride of life, thus the finner goes on happily, 
as it feems to him, in his carnal courfe : ftill 
he has a relifli for all thefe delights, fl:iU his 
(enfual appetite is not cloy'd, and ftill the 
G g 4 things 

456 Ofj the V ARABLE 

things of God are mere madnefs to his eaf,\: 
and very folly to his indulging and rejoicing- ' 
heart. The fiefli can yet enjoy its raptures, 
the eye and heart can flill be fed with ho^rt 
nouf and worldly applaufe, and the procurc*^'^ 
ment of wealth and earthly treafures, en^D^ 
grofling the attention, can yet amufe and oc-'' 
cupy the foul. He dreams not of any evil 
day to come: nor of that blacknefs of darknefs 
which will leize the foul when worldly ob- 
jects and enjoyments are totally fecluded from 
it. — But -dij amine we find arofe in that land 
where the prodigal had wafted all his fub- 
ftance : he began to be in want : and was 
compelled to join himfelf to the fervice of a 
maftcr, that put him to the moft fervile oc- 
cupations : — So will it be found with every 
fmner : a famine will furely arife in his foul : 
and after having wafted his talents, the porti- 
on of goods entrufted to his care, after hav^ 
ing run thro' every length of riot, after hav^ 
ing tried every worldly fin and pleafure, to 
fatisfy the hunger and cravings of his immortal 
foul, all will be found infufficient : and tho' 
now become the flave of fin and luft and the 
very bond-flave of hell and fatan, he will 
find nothing but bitter fam.ine in the fervice, 
horrible hunger and uneafinefs to a difl:urb*d 
and miferably wrack'd confcience. It is wife- 


of the Prodigal Svn. 4^7^ 

ly ordered of God, that no earthly thing, no 
worldly enjoyment (hould be complete on 
all parts, or capable of affording folid happi- 
nefs: and it is equal wifdom that he is pleased 
fo to lay his hand upon us, in afflicftions and 
calamities of different kinds, that we may 
come to a due fenfe of ourfelves and aferious 
recolleftion of our flate here below. By thefe, 
he never fails to call upon and ftir up the 
leaft as well as the greateft of finners : and 
herein is our wifdom and happinefs to behold 
the chaftifing hand of God upon us, to come 
to ourfelves, to enter into a ferious examina- 
tion of our ftate, and like the prodigal take 
up our refolution of returning to our offend- 
ed Father. When God is pleas'd to bring 
this fpirituaiy^/;;/;/^ on the foul, men are apt 
to try other means, and apply to other me- 
thods, than thofe which alone can avail them. 
When confcience begins to do its work, and 
prefents in horrible array before the finners 
eyes a long and fearful train of his aggra- 
vating and hainous offences : when unealinefs 
and difquietude, when melancholy and dif- 
trefs, when guilt and fhame, almoft abforb 
the afflidled foul : then worldly pleafures or 
the phyficians aid are moft likely to be call'd 
in to hufh and compofe the ftorms of fuch a 
troubled confcience. But as well might they 


4^S On the V ARABLE 

attempt to compofe the ocean, when the 
fempefts blow, by throwing a pair of fetters 
into it, like proud and foolifh Xerses, as hopq 
by fuch means to compofe fuch a confcience: 
experience fully proves that thus the malady 
is rather encreafed. Defpair too often is the 
confequence, and the load unremov'd becomes 
too heavy to be borne. — Oh could you but 
have the leaft idea of fuch a confcience, fa 
oppreft, fo burden'd, (o pierc'd thro* with the 
Itings and arrows of reproaching guilt : could 
you but for one moment feel the agonies 
and terrors of a foul fo befet on all fides 
with horrible dread and the fears of futurity : 
then would you make hafte to fly from the 
power of lin^ then would you be flir'd up to a 
due confideration of your prefent ftate, and 
with the prodigal take up the refolution of 
returning and confefling yourfelf to a merci- 
ful Father.— -For this alone can deliver us 
from the tortures of an awaken'd confcience ^ 
this alone can deliver us from the worra 
that never dieth, and the fire that is not 
quenched: and this parable of the prodigal, 
as it affords the greateft comfort, and encou- 
ragement to repenting finnevs, fo doth it fet 
before us in the cleareft light, the lid thing 
propofed to be confider'd -, namdy^ the nature 
and fruits of true repentance, .^\ 

Of the Prodigal Son. 459 

II. You fee the repentance of this Son 
was not nominal; it was adlive and real : he 

felt and deplord his finfulnefs : he was con^ 
evinced of his depravity, forry for it, arofe 
and turned from it.— The firft ftep towards 
which, was the feeling of his prefent mifery, 
and tjie fenfe of his former happinefs : "when 
he came to himfelf he faid^ how many of my 
Father's hired fervants have bread enough and to 

fpare and I feriJJj with hunger ! he did pot 
come to himfelf, till he/<?// this hunger: and 
tjiis join'd to the recolledion of the bleflings 
of his Father's houfe, caus'd him to refolve 
as he did, and to put that refolution into aft : 
I will arife, faid he, I will leave my prefent 
wretched (late, afjd go to my Father, a?id will 

fay unto him, confefling my offences before 
bim, making no excufe, but only imploring 
his mercy. Father, for that name perhaps 
may move him to cpmpaflion, Father, J have 

finned againft heaven afid before thee, and am no 
more worthy tQ be called thy Son — that grace 
and favour I can by no means exped: but do 
cot utterly caft me from thee, relieve my 
dreadful wants, fatisfy the hunger of thy poor 
deftitute half famifli'd Son, and i72ake me, only 
make me, as one of thy hired fervants. Having 
formed this refolution, he ftraightway put it 
into pra(:3^ice, otherwife the refolve had been 


46o 0// /^^ P A R A B L E 

fruitlefs and ineffedual : He arofe and went to 
his father. 

Herein you fee the mod lively and afFefting 
pifture of the penitent and returning finner, 
whom fpiritual hunger, whom fome afflidling 
providence, fent in love and much mercy, 
hath happily ftirred up to z fenfe zni feeling 
of his own v^ants : For it is that w^hich caufeth 
us to come to God. The Son thought not of 
returning till he was ready to perifh : and the 
finner thinks not of coming to God, till fome 
outward afflidion, for the moft part, fall upon 
hini, depriving him of his worldly enjoy- 
ments, fhewing him the nothingnefs of earth j 
and of confequence the neceffity of a care for 
better things. — Hence on a fick bed, we find, 
for the moft part, mens refolutions turned 
towards God, for which there was the fame 
reafon, when they were in health : but out- 
ward things can then pleafe or engage no 
longer ; when health however returns, the 
penitent, too often, for this reafon forgets 
his refolutions. Happy are they, whom af- 
fiidlions, fet home by the divine word, have 
fixed in full and firm dependance on their 
God, and the conviclions of whofe troubled 
confcience have led to perfedl converfion. 

If fuch a troubled confcience hath been 
the lot of any amongit you, eafily can you 

^ tell 

Of the Prodigal Son. 46^ 

tell the miferies of fuch a ftate, and the ua- 
eafy forrows that have diftracfled your minds, 
under the fenfe of your guilt and rebellion agalnft 
the beft of fathers. — If it fliould be the cafe of 
any amongft you, — (and may God fo opea 
the eyes and convince the mind of every 
unawakened (inner!) then remember not to 
fly to improper means of relief: but learn, 
with this Prodigal, to arife from your ftate of 
fin, to leave feeding fwine, to leave the fer- 
vice of your filthy lufts and appetites, and to 
haften, with his humble confeflion, flowing 
from a truly contrite heart, to a God of Mer- 
cy, a father of compaflions : ftand not upon 
any attempts to leflen your paft offences, 
but confefs them in all their guilt before your 
merciful father : call him by that name, and 
remind him, by whom and by what means 
you was made his child, even thro' the fuf- 
fering Jefus only, who hath procured for us 
that Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry ^il^a. 
Father : implore that father for the fake of 
that only begotten fon to pardon and receive 
you J prefs him with ardent importunity to 
accept you into his houfe j throw yourfelf at 
his feet in full refignation to his will, and be 
well-contented with holy David^ rather to be 
a door 'keeper in his houfe, than to dwell iii 
all the pomp and elegance of fin. — And 


4621 On the PARABLE 

furely, nothing fhould ftir up the foul to this' 
refolution fo much, as the refledion on the 
joys of his father's houfe, the bleffing of his 
love, and the enjoyment of his favour, with 
whom is the fulnefs of joy, in whofe pro- 
tedion is peace, quietnefs and affurance for 
ever, and at whofe right hand there are plea- 
fures for evermore. If you come thus in 
humble conjejjion to almighty God, if thus, like 
the prodigal, you arife^ and come to your 
father, for your encouragement you may 
learn from him, — for to this end was the ex- 
ample given,— what your reception will be. 

While the fon was yet afar off, his father faw 
him : the eyes of parents are quick and dif- 
cerning ; miferable and diftrefs'd as he vvas, 
he yet kneW this poor returning deftitute to 
be his own, his beloved fon; his bovvels 
yearned towards him ; he had the tendereft 
compaffion for him : he could not refrain, he 
could not aufterely wait till he fliould ap- 
proach, but behold he runs to meet him ! 
— Not one word of upbraiding falls from his 
lips, not one look of difcontent lowrs on his 
brows, no diftant coldnefs gives him a half 
and unpleafing welcome ; but befalls on hi 
neck and bedews him with kiffcs and wit 
tears. — Let the parents heart, which hath;; 
at any time experienced thetendernefsof fu0h 
2 a 

Of the Prodigal Son, 463 

a melting fcene, fpeak for thofe affedlionate 
feelings, which muft have paft on either part, 
and vvhich no other heart can conceive, and 
no words exprefs. The Son yet forgot not his 
own undeferving and offences, and began to 
make his refolved confeffion : the gladened 
Father hears him but in part 5 rejoiced to re- 
ceive the returning prodigal, he flops him in 
the midfl:,and orders the fervants to prepare all 
things to teflify his joy, For this myfon^ faid he 
with the voice of rapture, This my [on was 
dead^ and is alive again^ was lofty and is 
found ! 

How afFedling a repfefentation of paternal 
love is this -, which muft melt every heart that 
hears it, and force unwilling approbation even 
from thofe moft backward to imitate it ! 
But when^ my brethren, evefy living foul 
of man fhall be told, " For thee is this 
example written — • to thee it fpeaketh/' 
Muft it not cauie us deeply to confider, muft 
it not aroufe us to ferious confideration, to 
tender fliame and confcious guilt, upon the 
fenfe of having offended fo good, fo long- 
fuff'ering a father ? — Thou beholdeft, oh fin- 
ner, in this moft affedionate father, the love 
of thy almighty father to thee 1 he defireth 
not thy death : he wiflieth not that thou 
fliouldft be ftill rebellious and perifli : but on 


464 OnfhePARABLE 

the contrary, he earneftly defireth, that thou 
fliouldfl: come to thyfelf, fee thy dreadful 
want and danger, and make hafte in true re- 
pentance to his houfe and favour. This if 
thou wilt do, the arms of his tender com* 
paffion are extended wide to receive thee : 
while thou art yet afar off, only coming to him 
he will behold thee, and prefent thee with 
the bleffings of his grace, and the riches of 
his pardoning love ! Arife therefore, arife 
from thy bafe fervitude of fin, arife and gp 
to thy father ; fo fhall thy foul find fweet 
comfort and inexpreflible peace — fo will thy 
God receive thee, thy God, thy father, and 
thine exceeding great reward. 

And to incline him hereto, let the finner 
in ferioufnefs one moment confider, Ift. what 
he can gain by continuing a flave to fin ^ and 
2dly, what he can lofe by returning to God. 
ift. By continuing a flave to fin, whether it 
be to fenfual pleafures, to the love of riches, 
or the defire of worldly honour and ambition, 
^•he will at length be reduced to the ftate 
of this poor prodigal : he will fpeedily wifli 
to feed upon the very huiks of his former en- 
joyments 3 but they will not be for him : 
they will all vanlfh like a dream. The plea- 
fures of the flefli will pall and grow infipid ; 


Of the Prodigal So?i, 465 

and he himfelf will become incapacitated for 
them; certainly by age, fooner by debauches; 
riches will avail him nothing, tho' he had 
more than ever man poffeffed ; when difeafes 
lie hard upon him, when confcience ftares 
him in the face, or the grave opens its greedy 
jaws to devour him : and the honours or 
applaufes of men, even blind heathens them- 
felves have confefled to be bat a fmoke which 
vanifheth with the wind. And think, what 
x:an be more bafe or vile, than that immor- 
tal fouls made for the fruition of God himfelf, 
fhould fpend their days and years in minding 
nothing but eating and fleeping and trifling t 
or fcraping together large heaps of yellow 
duft, which will prove utterly ufelefs to them 
in the end : or in wallowing in uncleannefs 
and luft, which generally ends in beggary, 
fhame, or rottennefs : or in filling their bodies 
full of intoxicating drink, — a vice whereto 
even beafts are ftrangers,— till there be no- 
thing but the fhape of man remaining ! And 
yet thefe are the principal employments, 
wherein vicious men bufy themfelves ! — But 
what balm can all thefe things together yield, 
even when a man is tormented with the anguifh 
a violent difeafe,— what balm can they yield 
to heal a wounded confcience, which like the 
hand-writing on the wall, in the midft of the 
VoL.IIL Hh greateft 

466 On the PARABLE 

greateft affluence, the moft luxurious enter- 
tainments, and the higheft delights, makes the 
vicious man tremble and look pale, with the 
bitter refledion of his Ifie paft, and the dif- 
mal profpedl of what is to come *'. " At that 
hour, if he looks i?iward^ there is all hell, 
defpair and eonfufion : there he finds a foul 
polluted with fin, oppreffed with intolerable 
loads of guilt, and filled with the bitter re- 
membrance of former follies. — If he looks 
outward, he fees all his friends and compa- 
nions taking their laft leave of him: and as 
they forfake him, his great majler^ the devil, 
(whofe intereft he hath faithfully purfued all 
his life) is ready to feize upon the trembling 
foul, as it parts from the body. If he looks 
upwardy he fees an angry, ofl?ended God, 
whom he might have made his friend and 
father, whofe laws he hath affronted, whofe 
threatnings he hath dcfplfed, whofe grace he 
has turned into wantonnefs, and to whofe 
holy Spirit he hath done defpite. He fees 
the Judge of the world fummoning him to 
appear at his dreadful tribunal, to give an ac- 
count of the talents he hath mifemployed, of 
the precious time he hath mifpent, of the 
riots and debauches, the frauds and unjuft 
* See Abp. Sharp* s excellent Sermon on this Parable. 


Of the Pt'odigal Son, 46;^ 

dealings, the oaths and blafphemies^ thd 
lewd intrigues, wicked defigns, profane words, 
and evil anions of his whole life ! and he 
feems to hear that terrible fentence founding 
In his ears, which will moft certainly be pro- 
nounced upon him and all fuch at that day. 
Depart ye cur fed into everlaflingjire, prepared 
for the devil andhii angels ! miferable flate, 
the difmal conciufion of an ill-fpent, finful 
life ! — Thefe are the natural fruits and con- 
fequences of forfaking God ; thefe are the 
things which a man muft gaihy by continuing 
in a worldly, carnal Courfe \ And however 
men may affedl to diibelieve thefe alarming 
truths— hovvev^r they may at prefent footh 
their confciences, and defpife thefe things as 
the air-blown bubbles of enthufiafmi and the 
fears of diftem'pered brains 3 yet let them 
know, there will come ah hour, when they 
muft be convinced : let them know-^and oh 
tliat they were vHfe to c6nfider,~that therd 
is not any probability of preventing, or avert- 
ing thefe confequences, unkfs With the pro* 
digal, they in due time come to themfelve^, 
enter into a ferious confideration of their ways, 
and then arife and go to their Father *. 


* When I pfeach'd this Sermdn the better' to enforce the 

great doctrine of it, and to (htw the confequences of a 

life of prodigality and fm — I read Dr. Young's moft ex- 

H h 2 cdlent 

468 0/2 ^/&^ P A R A B L E 

2d. And what can the finner lofe^ let us 
2dly enquire, by this conduft — He will lofe 
fin to find a Saviour : he will lofe forrow and 
agony of confcience to find ferenity and peace 
of foul ; he will lofe eternal flames to find a 
kingdom of never ending joy. But fhall we 
meanly thus compare — compare fuch great 
things with fuch fmall — fhall we fay lofe ? 


cellent account of the death of Jltamont from the Centaur: 
and as I am perfuaded the omiflion of it would be no fmall 
difappointment to many of my readers, I have here fub- 
join'd it— fuppofmg itv/ill be of no diiTervicetothe worthy 
author's performance, but rather a means to excite the 
curiofity of my readers to a perufal of his whole work. 

'* I am about to reprefent to you, fays the author, the lafl 
hours of a perfon of high birth and high fpirit : of great 
parts and flrong paffions, every way accompliftied not leaft 
in iniquity — His unkind treatment was the death of a moft 
amiable wife — and his great extravagance in efFe£ts difm- 
herited his only child, p. 149. 

The fad evening before his death I was with him. No 
one was there, but his phyfician, and an intimate whom 
he lov'd, and whom he had ruin'd. At my coming in, he 
faid ; " You, and the phyfician, are come too late. — I have 
neither life, nor hope. You both aim at miracles. Yott 
would raife the dead." 

Heaven, I faid, was merciful. 

*' Or I could not have been thus guilty. What has it 
not done to blefs, and to fave me ? — I have been too ftrong 
for omnipotence ! I pluck'd down ruin." 

I faid, the blefled redeemer. 

'' Hold! Hold! you wound me! — That is the rock on 
which I fp'it — I deny'd his name." 

Refufmg to hear any thing from me, or take any thing 
from the, he lay filent, as far as fudden darts of 


Of the Prodigal Sou, 469 

where is the foul exifling, that is not well 
aware of the mighty gain? In truth no. rea.- 
fonable man can doubt of the bleflings de- 
rived from a fincere return to God ; and fcarce 
a man lives however finful that doth not in- 
tend it ; but fin ftill holds him captive, th^ 
chains are not eafy to be broken, and they, 
continuing irrefolutely refolv'd, go on from 


pain would permit, 'till the clock ftruck. Then with vehe- 
mence-, " Oh, Time! Time! It is fit thou fhould'ft thus 
ftrike thy murderer to theheart.— How art thou fled forever!" 
— A month ! — Oh, for a fmgle week ! I aik not for years. 
Tho' an age were too little for the much I have to do." 

On my faying we could not do too much : that heaven 
was a blefled place. 

" So much the worfe. 'Tis loft! 'Tis loft! — Heaven 
is to me the fevereft part of hell !" 

Soon after, I propos'd prayer. 

" Pray you that can. I never pray'd. I cannot pray. — • 
Nor need I. Is not heaven on my fide already ? it clofes 
with my confcience. Its fevereft ftroke? but fecond my 

His friend being much touch'd, even to tears, at this 
(who could forbear? I could not) with a moft affectionate 
look, he faid " Keep thofe tears for thyfelf. I have undone 
thee. — Doft weep for me? That's cruel. What can pain 
me more?" 

Here his friend, too much affeCled, would have left him. 

" No, ftay. Thou ftill may'ft hope ; — Therefore hear 
me. Kow madly have I talked ? How madly haft thou 
liften'd, and believ'd ? But look on my prefent ftate, as a 
full anfwer to thee, and to m^{t\^. This body is all weak- 
nefs and pain; but my foul, as ifftung up by torment 
to greater ftrength and fpirit, if full powerful to reafon; 
full mighty to fuff'er. And that, which thus triumphs with- 

H h 3 in 

470 On the ? A R A B L E 

day today, and forfeit eternal pleafures for the 
momentary enjoyments of a world, which 
they themfelves confefs has no folid real hap- 
pinefs to beftow. Oh that the fenfe of our 
almighty Father's love was more deeply en- 
graven on our heart, then as gratitude would 
keep us from fo groily offending him, fo when 

in the jaws of mortality, is, doubtlefs, immortal. — And, 
as for a deity, nothing lefs than an almighty could infii6l 

"1 was about to congratulate this pafTive, involuntary, 
confeflbr, on his afTcrting the two prirpe articles of his creed, 
extorted by th§ rack of nature^ when he thus, very pafTi- 

" Np, no ! let me fpeak on. I have not long to fpeak 
■ — My rhuch injur'd friend ! rhy foul, as my body lies in 
fuinsj in fcattered fragments of broken thought ; Rcn>orre for 
thepaft throws my thought on the future. Worfe dread of 
the future ftrikes it back on tHe paft. I turn, and turn, and 
find no rav.— Didft thou feel half the mountain that is on 
me, thou woud'ft itruggle with the martyr for his fake; and 
hlds heaven for the flames ;• — That is not an evtrlafiing 
iflame; that is not an unquenchable fire." 

How v/ere we flruck ? yec, foon after, flilj more. With 
what an eye of diitra(5lfon, what a face of defpair, he cryd 

'' My principles have poifon'cl my friend ; my extrava- 
gance has beggar'd my boy j' my unkindnef^ has murdered 
py wife ! — And is there another hell ?.-,-0 ! thou blaf^- 
phem'd, yet moft indulgent. Lord God ! Hell itfelf is a 
refuge, if it hides me from thy frown.'* 

Soon after his underllanding fiil'd. Flis terrified imagina- 
tion utter'd horrors not to' be repeated, or ever forgot. And 
ere the Sun (which I hope has feui few j-ike him)*arofc, the 
gay, young, noble, ingenious, accompiiihed, and meit 
wretched Aitamont tx^ii^d. ' - 


Of the Prodigal Son. 47 1 

we had offended him, confclous of his readinefs 
to forgive, we fliould never be backward to 
apply oarfelves to him. The fenfe of his 
exceeding love would ever preferve us from 
defpair, and tho' ten thoufand and ten thou- 
fand condemning circumftances crowded up- 
on our diftreffed confciences, we fliould ftill 
find room for comfort, we fhould flill be 
holden up in the bitter hour of diftrefs. For 
obferve in how ftrong colours the love of the 
Father in this parable is painted for us : and 
when transferred to almighty love, what joy- 
ful fenfations doth it raife in every penitent 
heart! for God, not only like this Father, 
runs to meet the returning finner, but — fo 
did he love a finful world — that he gave his 
only begotten Son to die for us, while we 
were yet enemies : and now while men re- 
main in fin, how doth he affeftionately bear 
with them; how doth he ftrive with them : 
how abundant is he in mercy and long-fuffer- 
ing : how gracious in goodnefs and truth ? O 
who can anger fo much love — who can offend 
fo much mercy ! and yet how do we daily 
affront him, how do we heap tranfgreffion 
upon tranfgreffion, and multiply the aggra- 
vated number of our offences ! Oh that we 
could but fee ourfelves in the true light — that 
we woul4 but duly confider our own bafe in-r 
H h 4 gratitude^ 

472 071 /^v P A R A B L E 

gratitude, and the abundant over-flowings of 
the divine forbearance ! how would it melt 
our hearts, how would it humble us in our 
own eyes ! and were we wife, would we but 
return, would we but leave our fins, which 
bring prefent mifery, and eternal forrow, God 
hath comfort in ftore for us — prefent peace 
and eternal blefTednefs!-— And what fliould 
keep thee, O man, what fhould detain thee 
from God? is he not thy Father? doth he 
not greatly defire thy foul's everlafting v/el- 
fare ? doth he not call to thee to turn and live, 
and doth he not patiently bear vv^ith thee; doth 
he not fuffer thee ftill to breathe this vital air : 
is not every thing which thou enjoyeft his 
free gift and favour — and did he not give his 
only beloved Son to die on the crofs, that 
thou mighteft live thro* him, and doth he 
not offer thee this only begotten Son to be 
thy ranfom and thy mediator ? — And are not 
thefe the very things, which thou thyfelf defir- 
eft ? wouldft thou not wiih to have fuch a Fa- 
ther? wouldfl thou not wiih to be a Son of God? 
deft thou not anxioully defire thy foul's ever- 
lafting health ? or art thou in love with horror, 
in love with the bottomlefs pit, and the flame 
unquenchable ? 

Surely there is no man here prefent, but 
would wifh to avoid thefe rniferies, and to be 
blefl with God for ever ? and if you ferioufly 
defire thefe things — as for thefe alone you 


Of the Prodigal Son, ' ^yi 

were created : not to breathe away a few 
months and years, and then drop into an eter- 
nal nothing: — anfwer the end of your coming 
into this world, and make the falvation of your 
fouls the one thing needful ; the grand con- 
cern ; for what (hall it profit you to gain the 
whole world, and to lofe the eternal kingdom ? 
Confider duly what are the certain wages of 
fin ', even agony, trouble, and diftrefs here 
upon earth ; hereafter never-ending horror ! 
Reflect from your own experience, and a fur- 
vey of mankind, upon the emptinefs of all 
human enjoyments, the forrows which muft 
affuredly befal every man born of woman, 
and the utter impoflibility of obtaining per- 
fed: peace on earth : confider what fruits you 
have or can have in thofe things, whereof ye 
will be forely afhamed : remember the grie- 
vous famine which will one day fall upon 
your fouls : remember that dreadful and ex- 
adt account which we muft all one day make 
at the awful tribunal of the judge of the 
whole earth ! And well weighing thefe things 
ere it be too late, take up the refolution of 
the prodigal, arife, leave your fins, and come 
to God in hearty forrow, and deep humility, 
confejjing^oxkx great unworthinefs before him. 
This is true repentance. And one finner fo 
repenting, caufeth more joy in heaven, than 
ninety and nine jiift perfons that need no fuch 

repentance ! 

474 On the ?A K A B L E 

repentance ! How fhould this comfort our 
fouls, refrerti and animate our hopes. If 
Heaven be fo interefted in our welfare, and 
if even God, and all the angelic hofts be 
thus concerned for our eternal intereft, let 
it not for fhame be faid, that man alone, 
whofe caufe it is, that man alone is uncon- 
cerned and unmoved in a cafe of fuch impor- 
tance ! 

But remember, tho* God is all love and 
mercy, v/illing to receive and glad to pardon 
every returning prodigal, yet he pardons none 
who do770i return : Tho' ready to run and meet 
the afflidled, humble, penitent finner, he is 
yet afar off, and will not be fought by the 
hardened offender, who retains his offence, 
and yet vainly hopes for mercy. Can the traitor 
expecft a pardon for his treafon, while his 
fword is drawn againft his prince ? Before the 
{inner can be accepted, the iin muft be put 
away — muft be crucified — ^the rebellious arms 
rnuft be laid down; he muft leave feeding 
fwine, arife, and return home. Then the 
father of mercy, with an eye of love, will 
behold, receive and embrace the repentant 
mourner ! and one moment enjoyed under 
the fenfe of God's redeeming grace and par- 
doning love, will as much over-balance all 
the delights of a life of fin, as the joys of hea- 
ven are fuperior to the flames of hell ! Re- 

0/ the Prodigal Son. 47^ 

ceived into favour and forgiven for the fake 
of Chrift his ranfom and peace, the chrif- 
tian's tongue will ever be founding his fa- 
ther's praife, as his heart will ever be dicta- 
ting fongs of thankfgiving. The fears of 
death and of hell will vanifh from before 
his eyes ; the troubles and uneafinefs of the 
world will become no longer burdenfome, 
but rather profitable to his foul ; his enjoy- 
ments here will be pure, folid, and fubftantial : 
and the blefTed hope of everlafting life will 
fo elevate his foul above- all earthly hopes and 
fears, that he will live chearful in expectation 
of the glory which fliall be revealed ; and 
die triumphant, as knowing whom he hath 
trujicd^ and as aflured, that when his earthly 
tabernacle Jloall be dijjohed^ he hath a build i^tg of 
God^ an houfe not made with ha?2ds^ etertial in 
the heavens. 

This peaceful life, and this happy death, 
we may all by God's grace enjoy — (and who 
that is wife would not wifh to enjoy it? — ) if we 
will return in iincerity to our merciful father, 
confefs our fins before him, and receive from 
him the free pardon of all our ofi^ences, and 
the free gift of righteoufnefs through Jefus 
Chrift, which is reprefented to us in the Illd 
part of the parable, and comes in the next 
place to be confidered. 

D IS- 



Of the Prodigal Son. 

St. Luke XV. 2 2, 23, 24. 

But the father faid to his fervants^ Bring Jorth 
the heft robe^ and put it on hiin^ a?2d put a 
ring on his hand^ ajid Jljoes on his feet. 

And bring hither the jatted calf and kill it ; 
and let us eat and be menj : 

For this my [on was dead^ and is alive again 5 
be was loHy and isjound. 

M)^)^M3€C D is love : and he that dwelleth 
8 G § ^^^ ^^^"""^^^ dwelleth in God^ and God 
^ ^ in him: fo great is the love of 

J^mMmM God to his offending creatures, 
that rather than they (hould periflb, he gave 
his Son : he fent his only begotten fon into the 


Of the Prodigal Son j^yy 

world, to die in their ftead, that whofoever 
believeth on him flmdci not peri [k^ but have ever^ 
la/iing life! Herein is love ! Love which 
makes him forbearing and merciful, long- 
fuffering, and very pitiful, even to thegreateft 
offenders, but to the returning penitent fin- 
ners, full of inexpreffible grace and favour. 
For^ as I live ^ faith the Lord, I have no plea- 
fure in the death of a fmner — wherefore turn ye ^ 
turn ye Jro?n your evil ways ^ for why will ye 
die, O houje of Ifrael ? To manifeft this ex- 
ceeding great love of God to man, to (hew it 
in the moft amiable colours, and to give com- 
fort to every foul burdened with the heavy 
load of guilt and fin, our Saviour delivered this 
moft affedling parable, wherein we fee, *' that 
like as a father pitieth his own children, even fo 
is the Lord merciful and gracious to them that 
fear him, — But his grace and mercy can be 
extended to none who do not fear him : where- 
fore it is no handle for licentioufnefs, no excufe 
for the prodigal finner : for the fame God 
who is all love to the humble penitent, is 
confuming fire to the obftinate perfevering 
profligate. The father went not to the fon, 
when in his ftate of riot and debauchery, but 
when he arofe and left that ftate, he then ran 
to meet him. Repent was the lirft word both 


47? On fbe P A R A B E 

in Stjohn's and in our Saviour's preaching, and 
the firft Hep to falvation is repentance : who- 
ever therefore have not known true repent- 
ance, have never been truly converted to 
Chri/iy and of confequence are not yet in a fav- 
ing ftate, are not yet entitled to the benefits 
of his gofpel : and whoever delay repentance 
under a notion that it will be time enough 
hereafter, greatly miftake the matter 5 for it 
is not in a man's power to repent when he 
will : this alfo is the gift of God 5 and who- 
ever neglects or defpifes the calls of God to* 
repentance from time to time, great reafon 
there is to fear, that he will be like the man 
defcribed by the poer--, who after many de^ 
terminations, at length, 

chides his infamous delay, 

PudiCS his prudent purpofe to refoIvCy 
In all the magnanimity of thought 
Refolves and re-refolves, and dies the fame. 

No man that lives, wants calls to repent- 
ance : a variety of accidents, outward evils, 
and outward bleffings, and the different dif- 
penfations of providence towards us are all 
defigned to promote this end. It was diflrefs 
you find that awakened the prodigal, that 

* Dr. Tvum in his Nkht Thouo;hts. 

o C iP 


Of the Prodigal So?2. 479 

brought hitn to his fenfes, and to a ferious 
Confideration of himfelf j and amongft men, 
nothing is more common than for ficknefs and 
forrow, worldly affliaions of whatever fort 
or kind, to awaken the mind to a due reflec- 
tion, and to ftir up the foul to an earneft feek- 
ing after its eternal welfare. All worldly af- 
fhaions {hould be received in this manner •, 
and with this view : and whenever they fall 
upon us, we fhould immediately defcend 
into ourfelves, examine our prefent ftate, and 
above all, confider the happinefe and perfect 
fruition of our father's houfe, from which 
we have departed for the poor pleafures of 
fin, which even pall enjoyments, and at beft 
are but for a feafon. 

This is the firft ftep to repentance: to 
which we find from the prodigah proceeding, 
that a departure from our ftate of fin, an 
humble application to God, and a finccre con- 
feffion of our unwortlilnefs muft be joined. 
It is not enough to feel the guilt and own the 
finfulnefs of fin : we muft arife and go to 
our father : leave fin and turn to God -, put 
off the old man and put on the new : be 
dead to fin, and alive to righteoufnefs : and 
make our humble confeffion to Almighty 
God, not trufting in our ov/n merits, but in 
his manifold and great mercies, throwing 


48^ On the P All\BL'E 

ourfelves at his feet, and humbly imploring 
his pardon, for the fake and thro* the fatis- 
fadtion of that mediator, thro' whom alone we 
have an accefs by one Spirit unto the Father, 

This alone is true repentance : and certain 
it is, that as, whoever have not know^n this 
repentance, are yet ftrangers to Gods fo, who- 
ever fuppofe repentance to confift in any thing 
but this abfolute departure from fin, and hum- 
ble confeffion to an all-forgiving father, de- 
ceive their own fouls, and deprive them- 

felves of the benefit of pardon. On the 

contrary, whenever the finner ftirred up by 
what caufe foever, fees and feels his mifery, 
is confcious of the guilt and condemnation of 
fin, is fenfible of the affronts and indignities 
committed by him againft a loving father — 
and thro' this leaves his fin, and turns to God 
in meek acknowledgment, deep contrition, 
and humble confeflion of his manifold and 
grievous offences — Whenever a finner doth 
this, the arms of God's mercy are opened 
wide to receive him, he will prevent him with 
the bleflings of his grace, and with afi^edion 
greater than can be paralleled, but fuch as 
may in fome degree be imagined from this 
father of the prodigal, with fuch affedion 
will he run to meet him, and give him the 
moft fubftantial proof of his forgivenefs and 



Of the Prodigal Son. 48^ 

And this naturally brings me to confider 

Illd and laft thing which I propofed to 
confider in this parable, the fon and finner m. 
a flate of grace and favour* And furely the 
reflexion on the almighty and unfpeakable 
love of God, as beautifully difplayed in the 
tendernefs of this father to his returning 
child, muft incline all your hearts to a mutual 
love of God, and a feriaus fenfe of your ingra» 
titude, if you continue to offend fo bountiful^ 
fo beneficent a Father ! muft furely incline 
you to a ferious examination of yourfelves, 
and an earneft defire, that his Spirit may Vi^ork 
fuch true repentance and converfion in your 
hearts, that you ma:y indeed fo turn to God, 
as to meet with the moft affedionate recep- 
tion from him : and would you but one 
moment confider, as was fuggefted to you in 
the laft fermon, what are the confequences of 
a life eftranged from God, and in the fervice 
of fin — what the confequences of a life de-- 
voted to his fervice, of a heart dedicated to 
his love, — you would not hefitate a moment 
in your choice, allured that the one is con- 
tinued, yea everlafting difquietude, that the 
other is continued, yea everlafting blefTednefs 
and peace : may none of you be found fuch 
enemies to your own fouls, as to chufe the 
VoL.ill.N'^.iK I i one 

482 0/2 ^/j^ P A R A B L E 

one and rejedl the other — but may each one 
of you be found fo wife as to fly unto God, 
while it is called to-day, fo happy as to re- 
ceive the gifts and graces, which the Father 
will give to thofe who in true faith and hearty 
repentance turn to him — and which are fi- 
gured out to us by the gifts of the father to 
his returning fon in the parable. 

The father faid to his fervants, *^ Bring 
forth the beft robe, and put it on him, and 
put a ring on his hand, and flioes on his 

By the beft ovjirji robe *, as it is called m 
the original, is meant, the robe of righteouf- 
nefs^ the robe which is put on in Chrijiy nay 
which is called Chriji KimkM \ put ye on the 
Lord Jefus •f- — that robe oirighfeoiijnefs which 
covers all the finner's iniquities, juftifies him 
in the fight of God, who beholds and accepts 
him in and for the merits of his only beloved 
Son. This righteoufnefs is reprefented by 
fine linen, clean and white^ in the book of the 
Revelation : and is that wedding-garment, 
which is the gift of the king's fon, the ear- 
neft of our welcome at his marriage- feaft, 

■f Revel, xix. 8. For, the fine linen is the righteoufnefs of 
faints. I fhall have occafion to fpeak more on this head, 
when I come to the parable of the ivedding-feajt, 


Of the Prodigal Son. 483 

and the want of which, as in the parable, 
will caufe us to be rejeded and caft out. 

Every finner as foon as returning to God in 
true faith and repentance (without which he 
can never obtain the robe) has this robe put 
upon hini — or in other words, i^jiiftifed be- 
fore God, by his free grace and favour : his 
paft fins are blotted out, as if they had never 
been committed, and he, for the fake oiChriJly 
is freely pardoned and forgiven : thus he is 
brought into a ftate of acceptance and favour, 
and thus of an enemy, made a fon : and this 
our church agreeably to the voice of facred 
fcripture, continually declares to all her chil- 
dren and members — " He pardoneth and ab- 
folveth all them that truly repent^ and unfeign-- 
edly believe \v\% holyGofpel." 

This is the immediate confequence of true 
repentance, which implies true faith, becaufe 
truly to repent and turn to God, we muft be- 
lieve and have confidence, that he is a God, 
willing and ready to pardon. 

But thus cloathed with the robe of righ- 
teoufnefs, thus pardoned 2iX\dLJiiJllfied^ we muft 
be fanBifed alfo : made holy or conformable 
by the Spirit to the image of God in Cbrijl 
Jefus : have our old nature deftroy'd or 
changed, and a new one derived to us from 
God by the Spirit. This great and effential 
I i 2 branch 

484 0;2 ^/5^ P A R A B L E 

branch of Chriftianity is fignified by the 
ring, which the father put on \\\^ foii s hand— 
Rings formerly were worn only as feals or fig- 
nets *, and to this the holy Spirit is compared, 
to a yj^/, whereby when the foul is, as it were> 
melted like wax, by real contrition and godly 
forrow, It is fealed, receives the divine im- 
preflion, and is transformed into the image of 
God. For the Spirit is tkg earnefi of our fal- 
vation^ whereby we are fealed unto the day of 
redemption. And rings with the feal of the 
huiband were fuch as in ancient times were 
given to the wife ; as a pledge and earneft of 
their mutual compad: and betrothing either to 
other. So by this feal or gift of the holy 
Spirit, we are affured, that God has betrothed 
us unto him for ever -f- — and that no crea- 
ture fliall be able to feparate us from his love 
in Chrift Jefus, 

Thus muft we h^faJiBified as well diSJuJli' 

jied: not only repent and be pardoned, but 

*' thro' the Spirit, have the reft of our life 

* See particularly EJlher^ chap. iii. ver. 12. It would 
have been eafy for me to have confirmed thefe interpreta- 
tions by the moft numerous and unexceptionable autho- 
riiies, but the compafs of the prefent volume being already 
exceeiied, I muil refer my reader to the ufual commentators 
quoted in the difcourfes, for want of room. 

\ Tbs ringy fays St. Chryfo/fom on the parable, put 
upon his finger, is the fign o^ marj'iage m^&Q hy faith. See 
^.efnelFs beautifid reSedlions on this parable. 

2 * here- 

Of the Prodigal Son, 485 

hereafter pure and holy — fothat atthe laft we 
may come to the eternal joy" — we mufl: re- 
ceive the Spirit of God, as an earnefi of our 
inheritance, whereby we are feahd unto the 
day of redemption, and whereby we are en- 
abled to cry, Abba Father. Our old nature 
muft be changed and deftroyed, and a new 
nature we muft have derived to us from God . 
for certain it is, however we may talk of re- 
pentance, however we may boaft of juftifica- 
tion, the free pardon of our paft offences, 
and our prefent ftate of acceptance with God, 
—yet this is the teft — " the works of the 
new nature fliewn in our new life" — if we 
find not this change from fin to holinefs, the 
work is not yet perfedled — we are not fealed 
by the Spirit of God, and confequently be- 
long not to God * ; we have not received this 
token, pledge or earneft of his love, and fo 
are not betrothed to him, and have no right 
to the poffeffions and inheritance of our hea- 
venly fpoufe : for St. Paul declares the fum 
of the truth as it really and verily is in 'Jefus^ 
to be placed herein : ift. "Ihat ue put off co7i^ 
cerning the former converfation the old man^ 
'which is corrupt according to the deceitful lufis : 

* Yox feals diftingulfli property: a man knows his own 
o-oods bv the feal or mark he fets upon them. Where the 
divine /^fz/ of the Spirit is, there is God's property, 

I i 3 —and 

486 Ontk? A R A B L E 

— and 2d. T/jat we put on the new man which 
after God is created in right eoufhefs and true ho- 
linefs. That this is not inftantly done, but 
that our feet muft run continually in the way 
of God's commandments — ^we are fhewn by 
the 3d thing which the father conferred upon 
his fon — He put Jhoes on his feet. Amongft 
the other parts of a Chriftian's armour and 
accoutrements which St. Paul recommends — 
is, the having our feet Jljod with the preparation 
of the gofpcl of peace. Our jeet are compared 
to our carnal affedlions, which are apt to carry 
us aftray, and to lead us into by-ways and 
thorny paths : it is neceflary therefore that 
they be guarded and defended by the preach- 
ing of the Gofpel, the word of truth : that 
we may walk in the ways of God, and ftudy 
to perform thofe things which he requires of 
us \ that our converfation may be fuch as becom^ 
eth the gofpel oj Chrifl^ that we may adorn the 
doulrine of our I.ord and Saviour in all things. 
This is that newnefs of life, which, as I ob- 
fcrved, muft be the fruit of our true conver- 
fion to God, and the real produce of the holy 
Spirit dwelling in us. For if we have not the 
robe of righteoufnefs by true faith put upon 
us, if we are not conformed to and led by the 
Spirit, if we walk not in unlimited obedience 
to the commandm.ents of God, as fet forth in 


Of the Prodigal Son. 487 

his holy Gofpel, with which we muft be con- 
tinually prepared, and which is as neceffary to 
our fpiritual walking, as fioes are for our feet 
— if this be not the cafe, our repentance is 
falfe, our faith pretended. But thefe are the 
certain confequences of real repentance : and 
in lefs than this, you muft not reft fatisfie^ • 
if you have really left fin, cleaved to God in 
humble confeffion for pardon and accept- 
ance thro' Jefus Chrift, if you are renewed in 
the fpirit of your mind, and have put on 
the new man, treading with diligence and 
the utmoft care in all the commandments of 
God, labouring to approve yourfelf in his 
fight, and to walk before him blamelefs, ac- 
cording to the Gofpel rule, and in diligent 
attendance thereto -then without fearching 
further, and without defiring more uncertain 
tefts of your adoption — then you may reft 
fully ajjured^ that you are a child of God, and 
if a child then an heir— an heir of God and 
joint-heir with Chrifl : — and heaven and 
-earth (hall pafs away, fooner than you (hall 
fail of that divine and promifed inheritance. 
But if you are wanting in any of thefe, if you 
have never known what true repentance 
meaneth, what true converfion and free par- 
don of your fins for the fake and merits of 
yefus Chrift : (for thefe things pertain to all 
I i 4 men^ 

488 On the PARABLE 

men, tho* not in the fame degree, yet after 

the fame manner for all are finners, 

tho' not all equally offending) where- 
fore, I fay, if you have never known for- 
row for and forfaking of fin, pardon and 
acceptance thra Jefus Chrifl, newnefs of life, 
and uniform obedience to the commands of 
God, a conftant endeavour to do his will, and 
a labour after evangelical holinefb, — be af- 
fured, that as certainly as God and his Gofpel 
are true, fo certainly you are yet not his chil- 
dren, and if not his children and heirs 

oh that every foul would confider of ivhom 
they are the miferable children and heirs ! 
That fo they might take up the .prodigal's re- 
folution, and at length be admitted into the 
number of the true faints and fervants of God, 
to fup with him here, that they may yJ// with 
him in glory hereafter. 

For, the fon, you obferve, after he was 
duly prepared, clothed^ fealed, 2ind JJjod, was 
immediately brought to the feaft of joy : 
Bring hither the fatted calf and kill it^ and let 
lis eafy and be merry ^ for this my fon was dead 
and is alive again ^ was loft and is found, ^ 
This is that feaft, to which our Lord invites 
all his returning, repenting children : This is 
that feaft where Chrift our facrifice is offered 
up, and where his bleffed body and blood are 


0/ the Prodigal Son, 489 

prefented for the fpiritual food and fupport of 

every penitent and believing foul. It is a 

feaft oijoy : let us eat and be merry ^ faid the 
father : and why fo ? becaufe my Jon was dead 
and is alive again ^ was lofty and is found. And 
fo our Saviour declares that there is joy in hea^ 
ven^ in the prejhtce oj the holy angels ^ over one 
Jinner^ who '* ill, repenting truly for his fins 
part, 2, having a lively and fteadfaft faith in 
Cbriji our Saviour, 3, amending his paft life, 
following the commandments of God and 
walking from henceforth in his holy ways, 
and 4, being in perfect charity with all men, 
draweth near with faith, and taketh that holy 
, facrament to his comfort *.'* Such a pe- 
nitent hath not only caufe of everlafting joy 
and thankfgiving in himfelf, for thefe inefti- 
mable bleffings, vouchfafed to him by his 
heavenly Father, but even that heavenly Fa- 
ther himfelf rejoices for the fake of this his 
recovered fon : even the holy angels lirike up 
their celeftial harps with improved melody* 
and the heavenly regions refound with mufic 
and gladnefs, while fuch, we may fuppofe, 
their triumphant fong, *' A fon of our God 
was dead and is alive again> was loft and is 

^ See tile Comrmj-nion Service, 


490 0/2 //&^ P A R A B L E 

And who would refufe thefe gracious in- 
vitations, who would continue in iin, and 
withdraw himielf from this holy commu- 
nion here, and that heavenly one hereafter : 
who would deprive himfelf of this joy un- 
fpeakable — ^-nay more, who would rob God 
and his holy angels of a caufe for rejoicing % 
and if I may be allowed the thought and ex- 
preffion, even filence the celeftial harps and 
tongues, and make an interval in the blifs of 
heaven — grieved for the lofs and iilent for the 
everlafting deftruclion of a foul, created with 
a power of reigning with them in glory ? 
Who would deftroy his immortal foul and 
lament thro* endlefs ages with infufferable 
horror, the madnefs and folly of a life of fin, 
which upon earth brought no folid peace, 
and in hell will confine him to a place of 
everlafting torment ? — Surely, my brethren, 
the knowledge of ourfelves, the worth of our 
immortal fouls, apd the infinite love of our 
redeeming God, will awaken us to a ferlous 
fenfe of thefe things : and to a full refolution 
to work out our falvation with fear and tremb- 
ling. For we are called by a God of infinite 
love only to a ftate of infinite happinefs : we 
have nothing, but our own unwillingnefs, to 

* See an excellent fermon of Dr. Lightfoofsj on the 
f'jbjCvSi, vol. 2. of his works, p. 12.65. 

J ftand 

Of the Prodigal Son. 49 1 

ftand in the way of our acceptance ; Chi^ift our 
paffover is facrificed for us : the arms of our 
Father are ready opened to receive us : the 
great Shepherd is feeking for us his loft and 
wandering fheep : and the whole choir of 
heaven ftands ready to rejoice ; foon as we 
fhall come to our fenfes and be wife, foon as 
we fhall be fenfible of our true happinefs and 
feek after it, foon as we fhall be founds 
and our loving, tender Shepherd fhall bring 
us to his fold and flock, even on his own 
fhoulders, rejoicing ! Oh may his love 
and care incline all our hearts and turn 
all our affedions towards him ! May the 
confideration of the infinite worth of our 
own fouls, and the infinite love of our Re- 
deemer, caufe us to arife and make hafte 
from fin and flavery : ^nd furely, if we have 
the leaft apprehenfion of that moft invaluable 
privilege, becoming the Jons of the mojl high 
God^ we fhall ufe every means and exert e- 
very endeavour to attain it : and can we be fo 
bafe and unworthy, fo void of every laudable 
affeftion, fuch ftrangers to gratitude, as to 
contemn the bowels of our Father's compaf- 
fion, to defpife his tender calls, and pathetic 
admonitions, and finally to difmherit ourfelves 
(which nothing but ourfelves czn do) of that 
kingdom of glory, which even the whole 


492 On the P A R A B L E 

blefled Trinity joined in council to fecure unto 
us, and for which great end each conde- 
fcended to become our father, redeemer and 

But if the fenfe of our almighty Father's 
love and inexpreffible regard to us is a motive 
which no finner can gainfay or withfland : 
furely it muft be no lefs perfualive with every 
child oi his to rejoice in the return of a brother ^ 
in the recovery of a loft and erring finner. 
And yet human nature will recoil : and the 
man of uprightnefs, of a ftrid and unblam- 
able converfation, fometimes be offended at 
the too liberal reception of finners under the 
Gofpel. This is our infirmity, and this we 
fhould labour to conquer : for doubtlefs he 
that loveth him that begat ^ ought alfo to love 
him that is begotten of him *. — You find how- 
ever, that the elder brother^ in this parable, 
was fo much difgufted at the mirth and joy 
which he heard in the houfe, on account of 
his younger brother s return, that he would 
not enter : nay he expoftulated with his fa- 
ther, and. even went fo far, as to condemn 
and difapprove his condac?:, v/ith morofe and 
four refledcions both on him and his returned 
{on— This THT SON, &c.— But the father 
fliewed his ufual love and condefcenfion : and 
■^ I John V. I, 


Of the Prodigal Sen. 493 

gently advifed him, at once of his affeftion. 
towards himfelf, and of his very juft reafons 
for the prefent giadnefs, on his brother's ac- 
count. Soft, thou art ever with me and all that 
I have is thine : it was meet that we (Jmild make 
merry ^ and be gladj jor this thy brother was 
Jead, a?2d is a I've again, was loft a?jd is found. 

This in the primary fenfe, as was before 
obferved, feems plainly to refer to the cafe of 
Jews and Gentiles : and to be moft evidently 
applied to them : for the Jews, the elder bro- 
ther, took it very hainoufly and repined much 
that our Saviour and his apoftles admitted 
ihQ Gentiles, xh^ younger brother, to the fame 
privileges with them, tho' not confined to 
the fame ftridt obedience, tho' not daily la- 
bouring in the field of the legal ceremonies. 
But in the fenfe wherein I have explained the 
parable to you, it refers to the different forts 
of men : thofe, who have from their youth 
up, lived in the fear of God, and thofe who 
have been notorious finners, and yet are at 
length called to grace and repentance. A 
good man indeed Vv^ill upon refleftion rejoice 
at the recovery of every finner : but as all 
men are but partially good, and fome re- 
mains of evil ftill are found, it w^ill grate and 
offend them, as w^e too commonly fee, when 
the vileft of finners, like \h\^ prodigal, return 


494 On the P A R A B L E 

and are accepted into the fame grace with 
themfelves. They who received the penny for 
their work in the vineyard, thought themfelves 
hardly dealt withal, becaufe having borne the 
heat and burden of the day, they were made 
equal with them that had toiled only one 
hour. But God muft and will do what feem- 
eth him good with his own , and as to the 
elder brother, he faid, all that I have is thine 
— fo to men of this fort, he faith, '' Son, 
thou art ever with me, and thy obedience and 
love (hall not fail of its reward, — on condition 
thou continueft ftill to ferve and obey me: yet 
confider, what I give to thy brother cannot 
harm thee, I have enough for both, I have 
enough for all : his portion in heaven fliall 
not diminifh thine, thine fliall be compleat, 
and his happinefs fo far from diminifhing, 
(hall rather add too, andincreafe thine own." 
— -Some have imagined, that this elder bro- 
ther pi(flures out to us only the fcribes and 
pharifees, the hypocritic and infincere Chri- 
ftians — but that I conceive is impofiible, for 
our Lord could never fay to them, SoUy thou 
art ever ivith ;;;^, and all that I have is thitie — 
and that good men, true children of God, 
may be inclined thus to murmur, and thus 
to think God*s dealings hard in receiving great 
finners to the fame favour with them, and to 


Of the Prodigal Son. 495 

the fame reward — is a fad, which it would 
be well, if large experience did not fully 
prove. No man can imagine, that Simon^ 
into whofe houfe our Lord enter'd was a bad 
man, and yet he murmured at our Lord for 
fuffering the woman that was an adulterefs to 
approach him. And our Lord vindicated his 
condudl to him, even as the father in this pa- 
rable vindicates his to his elder fon — It be- 
comes to many a great offence, even in God's 
minifters, that they confer with and ftrive to 
raife from the death of fin the vile and of- 
fending : but as Chriji came to call the finners 
not the righteous to repentance, fo we may 
be affured, that our chief work is with thefe — 
and when men (hall objedt to us, as they did 
to our Saviour, " this man receiveth Jinners and 

eateth with them"" we mufl then labour 

to imitate the love and gentlenefs of our al- 
mighty Father, chearfuUy advife fuch re- 
provers of their own bleffednefs, while they 
continue with God, and give them in meek- 
nefs the true reafons, why we cannot but re- 
joice for a brother that was dead and is alive 
again — was loft and is found. And every one 
who finds himfelf in the leafl degree inclined 
to this murmuring, will do well immediately 
to fubdue it in his heart, to confider it as an 
evil flill remaining, a fruit of the old flock— 


496 On 2f& P A R A B L E 

and to confider the example of this elder 
brother, the love and condefcenlion of his for- 
giving father, and the great reafon there is 
to rejoice upon the recovery of the greateft 
finners, if, as is our duty, w^e would make 
ourfelves like unto God and the blefled an- 
gels. And in fine, let it be the united la- 
bour of us all, to caufe this rejoicing in hea- 
ven, and to bring at leaft one child home to 
the houfe of our heavenly Father! If we can 
be brought truly to rejoice on our own ac- 
count, becaufe we were dead and are alive 

again, were loft and are found we fhall 

foon be brought to rejoice for the fake of e- 
very brother, fo found and fo reftored to the 
love of his heavenly Father ! And ,oh con- 
fider from a review of this ftriking pi(fture, 
what muft be the cafe, if we are not reftored 
to his favour ! wretched prodigals, having^ 
wafted all our fubftance in riotous living and 
excefs, we fhall be driven to the bittereft ex- 
tremity, the fevereft ftings of confcience here 
upon earth — and if we return not, our famine 
will be everlafting — our hunger continue to 
gnaw and feed upon our tormented fouls 
thro* the long long day of wonderous never- 
ending eternity ! 

But if by the grace of God, we come to 
ourfelves, and take up our refolution to re- 

Of the Prodigal Son. 497 

turn— happieft of mortals, the door of mercy 
is wide unfolded to receive us ! Sprinkled 
with the blood oiChrifi, we fhali be cleanfed 
from all our impurities, perfeft joy and per- 
fea peace will be Hied abroad in our hearts 
by the power of the holy Spirit, and it will 
be our meat and drink to do the will and run 
in the way of our Lord's commandments • 
Here we {hall live chearful in expedlation of 
the hope which fhall be revealed, and die re- 
joicing and full of mortality, as knowing that 
foon as this earthly tabernacle (hall be dif- 
folved, we have a building of God, an houfe 
not made with hands eternal in the heavens 1 

And may God of his infinite mercy grant, 
that we all may arrive at this chriftian temper^ 
that fo we may arrive at this blelTed and eter- 
nal houfe, — may his grace fo open all our 
eyes to a due fenfe of our prefent ftate, that 
we may in ferious refledtion enter into our 
own hearts, fee the guilt, the forrow, and 
danger of fin, and under a feeling fenfe of its 
mifcries, arife, go to our Father, and humbly 
confefs our manifold unw^orthinefs before him 
^ — and may he of his unfpeakable love and 
mercy extend the arms of his compaffion wide 
to receive us, give us all a happy fenfe of his 
forgiving, redeeming love, clothe us with the 
beft robe, put his feal on each of our hearts. 
Vol. III. K k enabb 

49? 0?i the? A K A B L E, &c. 
enable our feet to run in the way of his com- 
mandments, and make us fuch approved 
guefts, at his divine fuppcr here, that we may 
be found worthy to fit down and fup with 
him at his eternal feaft in glory ! which, &g. 

The End of the Third Volume. 

Date Due 

.-V 19 '4 





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